The Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPlanetS)—Results from a 6 yr Campaign to Image Accreting Protoplanets

Katherine B. Follette*, Laird M. Close, Jared R. Males, Kimberly Ward-Duong, William O. Balmer, Jéa Adams Redai, Julio Morales, Catherine Sarosi, Beck Dacus, Robert J. De Rosa, Fernando Garcia Toro, Clare Leonard, Bruce Macintosh, Katie M. Morzinski, Wyatt Mullen, Joseph Palmo, Raymond Nzaba Saitoti, Elijah Spiro, Helena Treiber, Kevin WagnerJason Wang, David Wang, Alex Watson, Alycia J. Weinberger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Accreting protoplanets are windows into planet formation processes, and high-contrast differential imaging is an effective way to identify them. We report results from the Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPlanetS), which collected Hα differential imagery of 14 transitional disk host stars with the Magellan Adaptive Optics System. To address the twin challenges of morphological complexity and point-spread function instability, GAPlanetS required novel approaches for frame selection and optimization of the Karhounen-Loéve Image Processing algorithm pyKLIP. We detect one new candidate, CS Cha “c,” at a separation of 68 mas and a modest Δmag of 2.3. We recover the HD 142527 B and HD 100453 B accreting stellar companions in several epochs, and the protoplanet PDS 70 c in 2017 imagery, extending its astrometric record by nine months. Though we cannot rule out scattered light structure, we also recover LkCa 15 “b,” at Hα; its presence inside the disk cavity, absence in Continuum imagery, and consistency with a forward-modeled point source suggest that it remains a viable protoplanet candidate. Through targeted optimization, we tentatively recover PDS 70 c at two additional epochs and PDS 70 b in one epoch. Despite numerous previously reported companion candidates around GAplanetS targets, we recover no additional point sources. Our moderate Hα contrasts do not preclude most protoplanets, and we report limiting Hα contrasts at unrecovered candidate locations. We find an overall detection rate of ∼36 − 22 + 26 % , considerably higher than most direct imaging surveys, speaking to both GAPlanetS’s highly targeted nature and the promise of Hα differential imaging for protoplanet identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number225
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The Giant Accreting Protoplanet Survey (GAPlanetS)—Results from a 6 yr Campaign to Image Accreting Protoplanets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this