Laboratoire d’astrophysique de Grenoble, Université Joseph Fourier, CNRS
Grenoble Cedex 9,
2 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Vitacura Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
Accepted: 24 June 2010
The search for substellar companions around stars with different masses along the main sequence is critical to understanding the different processes leading to the formation of low-mass stars, brown dwarfs, and planets. In particular, the existence of a large population of low-mass stars and brown dwarfs physically bound to early-type main-sequence stars could imply that the massive planets recently imaged at wide separations (10–100 AU) around A-type stars are disc-born objects in the low-mass tail of the binary distribution and are thus formed via gravitational instability rather than by core accretion. Our aim is to characterize the environment of early-type main-sequence stars by detecting substellar companions between 10 and 500 AU. The sample stars are also surveyed with radial velocimetry, providing a way to determine the impact of the imaged companions on planets at ≲10 AU. High-contrast and high angular resolution near-infrared images of a sample of 38 southern A- and F-type stars were obtained between 2005 and 2009 with the instruments NaCo on the Very Large Telescope and PUEO on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. Direct and saturated imaging were used in the J to Ks bands to probe the faint circumstellar environments with contrasts of ~5 × 10-2 to 10-4 at separations of and 1″, respectively. Using coronagraphic imaging, we achieved contrasts between 10-5 and 10-6 at separations >5″̣ Multi-epoch observations were performed to distinguish comoving companions from background contaminants. This survey is sensitive to companions of A and F stars in the brown dwarf to low-mass star mass regime. About 41 companion candidates were imaged around 23 stars. Follow-up observations for 83% of these stars allowed us to identify a large number of background contaminants. We report detection of 7 low-mass stars with masses between 0.1 and 0.8 M⊙ in 6 multiple systems: the discovery of an M2 companion around the A5V star HD 14943 and detection of HD 41742B around the F4V star HD 41742 in a quadruple system. We resolve the known companion of the F6.5V star HD 49095 as a short-period binary system composed of 2 M/L dwarfs. We also resolve the companions to the astrometric binaries ι Crt (F6.5V) and 26 Oph (F3V), and identify an M3/M4 companion to the F4V star o Gru, associated with an X-ray source. The global multiplicity fraction measured in our sample of A and F stars is ≥ 16%. This has a probable impact on the radial velocity measurements performed on the sample stars.
Key words: stars: early type / binaries: close / surveys / astrometry / instrumentation: adaptive optics
Based on observations made with ESO Telescopes at the Paranal Observatory under programme IDs 076.C-0270, 081.C-0653, and 083.C-0151, and on observations obtained at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) which is operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Institut National des Sciences de l’Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, and the University of Hawaii.
© ESO, 2010