Resolving the HD 100546 protoplanetary system with the Gemini Planet Imager: Evidence for multiple forming, accreting planets

Thayne Currie, Ryan Cloutier, Sean Brittain, Carol Grady, Adam S. Burrows, Takayuki Muto, Scott J. Kenyon, Marc J. Kuchner

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113 Scopus citations


We report Gemini Planet Imager H-band high-contrast imaging/integral field spectroscopy and polarimetry of the HD 100546, a 10 Myr old early-type star recently confirmed to host a thermal infrared (IR) bright (super-)Jovian protoplanet at wide separation, HD 100546 b. We resolve the inner disk cavity in polarized light, recover the thermal IR-bright arm, and identify one additional spiral arm. We easily recover HD 100546 b and show that much of its emission plausibly originates from an unresolved point source. The point-source component of HD 100546 b has extremely red IR colors compared to field brown dwarfs, qualitatively similar to young cloudy super-Jovian planets; however, these colors may instead indicate that HD 100546 b is still accreting material from a circumplanetary disk. Additionally, we identify a second point-source-like peak at rproj ∼ 14 AU, located just interior to or at the inner disk wall consistent with being a <10-20 MJ candidate second protoplanet - "HD 100546 c" - and lying within a weakly polarized region of the disk but along an extension of the thermal IR-bright spiral arm. Alternatively, it is equally plausible that this feature is a weakly polarized but locally bright region of the inner disk wall. Astrometric monitoring of this feature over the next 2 years and emission line measurements could confirm its status as a protoplanet, rotating disk hot spot that is possibly a signpost of a protoplanet, or a stationary emission source from within the disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL27
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

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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