The Gemini Nici Planet-Finding Campaign: Discovery of a close substellar companion to the young debris disk star PZ TEL

Beth A. Biller, Michael C. Liu, Zahed Wahhaj, Eric L. Nielsen, Laird M. Close, Trent J. Dupuy, Thomas L. Hayward, Adam S. Burrows, Mark Chun, Christ Ftaclas, Fraser Clarke, Markus Hartung, Jared Males, I. Neill Reid, Evgenya L. Shkolnik, Andrew Skemer, Matthias Tecza, Niranjan Thatte, Silvia H.P. Alencar, Pawel ArtymowiczAlan Boss, Elisabete De Gouveia Dal Pino, Jane Gregorio-Hetem, Shigeru Ida, Marc J. Kuchner, Douglas Lin, Douglas Toomey

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87 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of a tight substellar companion to the young solar analog PZ Tel, a member of the β Pic moving group observed with high-contrast adaptive optics imaging as part of the Gemini Near-Infrared Coronagraphic Imager Planet-Finding Campaign. The companion was detected at a projected separation of 16.4 ± 1.0 AU (0. ′33 ± 0. ′01) in 2009 April. Second-epoch observations in 2010 May demonstrate that the companion is physically associated and shows significant orbital motion. Monte Carlo modeling constrains the orbit of PZ Tel B to eccentricities >0.6. The near-IR colors of PZ Tel B indicate a spectral type of M7 ± 2 and thus this object will be a new benchmark companion for studies of ultracool, low-gravity photospheres. Adopting an age of 12+8-4 Myr for the system, we estimate a mass of 36 ± 6 MJup based on the Lyon/DUSTY evolutionary models. PZ Tel B is one of the few young substellar companions directly imaged at orbital separations similar to those of giant planets in our own solar system. Additionally, the primary star PZ Tel A shows a 70 μm emission excess, evidence for a significant quantity of circumstellar dust that has not been disrupted by the orbitalmotion of the companion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L82-L87
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Brown dwarfs
  • Instrumentation: adaptive optics
  • Planetary systems
  • Planets and satellites: detection
  • Stars: pre-main sequence


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