PTFO 8-8695: Two Stars, Two Signals, No Planet

L. G. Bouma, J. N. Winn, G. R. Ricker, R. Vanderspek, D. W. Latham, S. Seager, J. M. Jenkins, T. Barclay, K. A. Collins, J. P. Doty, D. R. Louie, S. N. Quinn, M. E. Rose, J. C. Smith, J. Villaseñor, B. Wohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


PTFO 8-8695 (CVSO 30) is a star in the 7-10 million year old Orion OB1a cluster that shows brightness dips that resemble planetary transits. Although strong evidence against the planet hypothesis has been presented, the possibility remains debated in the literature. To obtain further clues, we inspected data from the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the ESA Gaia mission. The Gaia data suggest that PTFO 8-8695 is a binary: the photometric data show it to be overluminous with respect to members of its kinematic group, and the astrometric data are inconsistent with a single star. The TESS light curve shows two different photometric periods. The variability is dominated by a sinusoidal signal with a period of 11.98 hr, presumably caused by stellar rotation. Also present is a 10.76 hr signal consisting of a not-quite sinusoid interrupted by hour-long dips, the type of signal previously interpreted as planetary transits. The phase of the dips is nearly 180 away from the phase of the originally reported dips. As noted previously, this makes them difficult to explain as planetary transits. Instead, we believe that PTFO 8-8695 is a pair of young and rapidly rotating M dwarfs, one of which shows the same "transient-dipper"behavior that has been seen in at least five other cases. The origin of these transient dips is still unknown but likely involves circumstellar material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number86
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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