EDP Sciences
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Volume 462, Number 2, February I 2007
Page(s) 769 - 776
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20066194

A&A 462, 769-776 (2007)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20066194

The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets

VIII. $\mu$ Arae , a system with four planets
F. Pepe1, A. C. M. Correia2, M. Mayor1, O. Tamuz1, J. Couetdic3, W. Benz4, J.-L. Bertaux5, F. Bouchy6, J. Laskar3, C. Lovis1, D. Naef7, 1, D. Queloz1, N. C. Santos8, 1, 9, J.-P. Sivan10, D. Sosnowska1, and S. Udry1

1  Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 Ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
    e-mail: Francesco.Pepe@obs.unige.ch
2  Departamento de Física da Universidade de Aveiro, Campus Universitário de Santiago, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal
3  Astronomie et Systèmes Dynamiques, IMCCE-CNRS UMR 8028, 77 avenue Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris, France
4  Physikalisches Institut Universität Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
5  Service d'Aéronomie, Route des Gatines, 91371 Verrières-le-Buisson Cedex, France
6  Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis Bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
7  ESO La Silla Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Vitacura Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
8  Observatório Astronómico de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-018 Lisboa, Portugal
9  Centro de Geofisica de Évora, Rua Romão Ramalho 59, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal
10  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, Traverse du Siphon BP8, 13376 Marseille Cedex 12, France

(Received 5 August 2006 / Accepted 5 September 2006 )

Context.The $\mu$ Arae planetary system is fairly complex, because it contains two already known planets, $\mu$ Arae b with P=640 days and $\mu$ Arae c with P=9.64 days , and a third companion on a wide, but still poorly defined, orbit.
Aims.Even with three planets in the system, the data points keep anomalously high dispersion around the fitted solution. The high residuals are only partially due to the strong p-mode oscillations of the host star. We therefore studied the possible presence of a fourth planet in this system.
Methods.During the past years we carried out additional and extremely precise radial-velocity measurements with the HARPS spectrograph. These data turned out to be highly important for constraining the many free parameters in a four-planet orbital fit. Nevertheless, the search for the best solution remains difficult in this complex and multi-dimensional parameter space. The new Stakanof software, that uses an optimized genetic algorithm, helped us considerably in this task and made our search extremely efficient and successful.
Results.We provide a full orbital solution of the planetary system around $\mu$ Arae. It turns out to be the second system known to harbor 4 planetary companions. Before this study, $\mu$ Arae b was already well known and characterized. Thanks to the new data points acquired with HARPS we can confirm the presence of $\mu$ Arae c at P=9.64 days, which produces a coherent RV signal over more than two years. The new orbital fit sets the mass of $\mu$ Arae c to 10.5 $M_{\oplus}$. Furthermore, we present the discovery of $\mu$ Arae d , a new planet on an almost circular 310 day-period and with a mass of 0.52 $M_{\rm Jup}$. Finally, we give completely new orbital parameters for the longest-period planet, $\mu$ Arae e . It is the first time that this companion has been constrained by radial-velocity data into a dynamical stable orbit, which leaves no doubt about its planetary nature. We take this opportunity to discuss naming conventions for poorly characterized planets.

Key words: instrumentation: spectrographs -- techniques: radial velocities -- stars: individual: $\mu$ Arae (HD 160691) -- stars: planetary systems

© ESO 2007

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