AR 17059 (Archival Research)

Sun Jul 14 19:29:44 GMT 2024

Principal Investigator: Paul Kalas
PI Institution: University of California - Berkeley
Investigators (xml)

Title: A complete, uniform, and astrometrically calibrated optical image library of all debris disk stars targeted with HST coronagraphy
Cycle: 30

HST has delivered breakthrough high-contrast images of debris disks surrounding bright nearby stars that are universally recognized as pioneering for the field of exoplanets. These archival data could continue to have a critical scientific impact when advanced observatories such as ground-based AO, ALMA, and soon JWST, target the very same disks and will depend on HST's optical data to interpret the longer wavelength results. Despite the impactful role of HST debris disk imaging that began 28 years ago, only the NICMOS data have been processed for a legacy archive. Here we propose to reprocess all of the optical HST data on debris disks in a uniform manner that includes PSF subtractions and astrometric calibrations using Gaia. The Gaia astrometric calibration is a new and powerful method to solve a difficult problem: in the vast majority of debris disk studies to date, the position of the target star is not known to high precision because it is occulted by a coronagraph. This hampers the discovery and tracking of disk features or point sources moving in the time domain relative to the host star. In this legacy database, investigators will be able to download the PSF-subtracted data, including those fields with non-detections of disks, and immediately obtain reliable astrometry of sources relative to the host star. The library of disk images will enable the precision tracking of exoplanets and disk features, the exploration of population statistics, the multi-wavelength analysis of debris disk architectures and grain properties, and the testing of new theories, thereby ensuring that these HST data are meaningful for a new generation of exoplanet studies.