Published in

Astronomy & Astrophysics, (625), p. A22, 2019

DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201834028



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Precise radial velocities of giant stars

This paper was not found in any repository, but could be made available legally by the author.
This paper was not found in any repository, but could be made available legally by the author.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


Context. Radial-velocity variations of the K giant star Aldebaran (α Tau) were first reported in the early 1990s. After subsequent analyses, the radial-velocity variability with a period of ∼629 d has recently been interpreted as caused by a planet of several Jovian masses. Aims. We want to further investigate the hypothesis of an extrasolar planet around Aldebaran. Methods. We combine 165 new radial-velocity measurements from Lick Observatory with seven already published data sets comprising 373 radial-velocity measurements. We perform statistical analyses and investigate whether a Keplerian model properly fits the radial velocities. We also perform a dynamical stability analysis for a possible two-planet solution. Furthermore, the possibility of oscillatory convective modes as cause for the observed radial-velocity variability is discussed. Results. As best Keplerian fit to the combined radial-velocity data we obtain an orbit for the hypothetical planet with a smaller period (P = 607 d) and a larger eccentricity (e = 0.33 ± 0.04) than the previously proposed one. However, the residual scatter around that fit is still large, with a standard deviation of 117 ms−1. In 2006/2007, the statistical power of the ∼620 d period showed a temporary but significant decrease. Plotting the growth of power in reverse chronological order reveals that a period around 620 d is clearly present in the newest data but not in the data taken before ∼2006. Furthermore, an apparent phase shift between radial-velocity data and orbital solution is observable at certain times. A two-planet Keplerian fit matches the data considerably better than a single-planet solution, but poses severe dynamical stability issues. Conclusions. The radial-velocity data from Lick Observatory do not further support but in fact weaken the hypothesis of a substellar companion around Aldebaran. Oscillatory convective modes might be a plausible alternative explanation of the observed radial-velocity variations.

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