Recovery of the candidate protoplanet HD 100546 b with Gemini/NICI and detection of additional (planet-induced?) disk structure at small separations

Thayne Currie, Takayuki Muto, Tomoyuki Kudo, Mitsuhiko Honda, Timothy D. Brandt, Carol Grady, Misato Fukagawa, Adam S. Burrows, Markus Janson, Masayuki Kuzuhara, Michael W. McElwain, Katherine Follette, Jun Hashimoto, Thomas Henning, Ryo Kandori, Nobuhiko Kusakabe, Jungmi Kwon, Kyle Mede, Jun Ichi Morino, Jun NishikawaTae Soo Pyo, Gene Serabyn, Takuya Suenaga, Yasuhiro Takahashi, John Wisniewski, Motohide Tamura

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72 Scopus citations


We report the first independent, second epoch (re-)detection of a directly imaged protoplanet candidate. Using L′ high-contrast imaging of HD 100546 taken with the Near-Infrared Coronagraph and Imager on Gemini South, we recover "HD 100546 b" with a position and brightness consistent with the original Very Large Telescope/NAos-COnica detection from Quanz et al., although data obtained after 2013 will be required to decisively demonstrate common proper motion. HD 100546 b may be spatially resolved, up to ≈12-13 AU in diameter, and is embedded in a finger of thermal IR-bright, polarized emission extending inward to at least 0″.3. Standard hot-start models imply a mass of ≈15 MJ. However, if HD 100546 b is newly formed or made visible by a circumplanetary disk, both of which are plausible, its mass is significantly lower (e.g., 1-7 MJ). Additionally, we discover a thermal IR-bright disk feature, possibly a spiral density wave, at roughly the same angular separation as HD 100546 b but 90° away. Our interpretation of this feature as a spiral arm is not decisive, but modeling analyses using spiral density wave theory implies a wave launching point exterior to ≈0″.45 embedded within the visible disk structure: plausibly evidence for a second, hitherto unseen, wide-separation planet.With one confirmed protoplanet candidate and evidence for one to two others, HD 100546 is an important evolutionary precursor to intermediate-mass stars with multiple super-Jovian planets at moderate/wide separations like HR 8799.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL30
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Planetary systems
  • Stars: early-type
  • Stars: individual (HD 100546)


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