The HARPS search for Earth-like planets in the habitable zone
Observatoire de Genève, Université de Genève, 51 ch. des Maillettes, 1290 Versoix, Switzerland
2 Physikalisches Institut Universität Bern, Sidlerstrasse 5, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
3 Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, UMR7095 CNRS, Université Pierre & Marie Curie, 98bis Bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
4 Observatoire de Haute-Provence/CNRS, 04870 St. Michel l’Observatoire, France
5 Centro de Astrofísica da Universidade do Porto, Rua das Estrelas, 4150-762 Porto, Portugal
6 Departamento de Física e Astronomia, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade do Porto, Portugal
Received: 8 April 2011
Accepted: 15 August 2011
Context. In 2009 we started an intense radial-velocity monitoring of a few nearby, slowly-rotating and quiet solar-type stars within the dedicated HARPS-Upgrade GTO program.
Aims. The goal of this campaign is to gather very-precise radial-velocity data with high cadence and continuity to detect tiny signatures of very-low-mass stars that are potentially present in the habitable zone of their parent stars.
Methods. Ten stars were selected among the most stable stars of the original HARPS high-precision program that are uniformly spread in hour angle, such that three to four of them are observable at any time of the year. For each star we recorded 50 data points spread over the observing season. The data points consist of three nightly observations with a total integration time of 10 min each and are separated by two hours. This is an observational strategy adopted to minimize stellar pulsation and granulation noise.
Results. We present the first results of this ambitious program. The radial-velocity data and the orbital parameters of five new and one confirmed low-mass planets around the stars HD 20794, HD 85512, and HD 192310 are reported and discussed, among which is a system of three super-Earths and one that harbors a 3.6 M⊕-planet at the inner edge of the habitable zone.
Conclusions. This result already confirms previous indications that low-mass planets seem to be very frequent around solar-type stars and that this may occur with a frequency higher than 30%.
Key words: planetary systems / instrumentation: spectrographs / techniques: radial velocities / stars: individual: HD 20794 / stars: individual: HD 85512 / stars: individual: HD 192310
Based on observations made with the HARPS instrument on ESO’s 3.6 m telescope at the La Silla Observatory in the frame of the HARPS-Upgrade GTO program ID 086.C-0230.
Tables 7–9 (RV data) are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/534/A58
© ESO, 2011