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Astron. Astrophys. 344, L5-L8 (1999)

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Letter to the Editor

Precise radial velocities of Proxima Centauri *

Strong constraints on a substellar companion

M. Kürster 1, A.P. Hatzes 2, W.D. Cochran 2, S. Döbereiner 3, K. Dennerl 3 and M. Endl 1,4

1 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19001, Vitacura, Santiago 19, Chile
2 McDonald Observatory, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1083, USA
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse, D-85748 Garching, Germany
4 Institut für Astronomie, Universität Wien, Türkenschanzstrasse 17, A-1180 Wien, Austria

Received 20 January 1999 / Accepted 18 February 1999


We present differential radial velocity measurements of Proxima Centauri collected over 4 years with the ESO CES with a mean precision of [FORMULA]. We find no evidence of a periodic signal that could corroborate the existence of a sub-stellar companion. We put upper limits (97% confidence) to the companion mass ranging from 1.1 to [FORMULA] at orbital periods of 0.75 to 3000 d, i.e. separations [FORMULA] AU from Prox Cen. Our mass limits concur with limits found by precise astrometry (Benedict et al. 1998a and priv. comm.) which strongly constrain the period range [FORMULA] d to [FORMULA]. Combining both results we exclude a brown dwarf or supermassive planet at separations [FORMULA] AU from Prox Cen. We also find that, at the level of our precision, the RV data are not affected by stellar activity.

Key words: stars: planetary systems – stars: individual: Prox Cen – stars: rotation – techniques: radial velocities

* Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla

Send offprint requests to: M. Kürster (mkurster@eso.org)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 10, 1999