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Title: Taking the Measure of the Universe : precision astrometry with SIM PlanetQuest
Authors: Unwin, Stephen C.
Shao, Michael
Tanner, Angelle M.
Allen, Ronald J.
Beichman, Charles A.
Boboltz, David
Catanzarite, Joseph H.
Chaboyer, Brian C.
Ciardi, David R.
Edberg, Stephen J.
Fey, Alan L.
Fischer, Debra A.
Gelino, Christopher R.
Gould, Andrew P.
Grillmair, Carl
Henry, Todd J.
Johnston, Kathryn V.
Johnston, Kenneth J.
Jones, Dayton L.
Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.
Law, Nicholas M.
Majewski, Steven R.
Makarov, Valeri V.
Marcy, Geoffrey W.
Meier, David L.
Olling, Rob P.
Pan, Xiaopei
Patterson, Richard J.
Pitesky, Jo Eliza
Quirrenbach, Andreas
Shaklan, Stuart B.
Shaya, Edward J.
Strigari, Louis E.
Tomsick, John A.
Wehrle, Ann E.
Worthey, Guy
Keywords: Extrasolar Planets
Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei
Astronomical Instrumentation
Issue Date: Jan-2008
Publisher: Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Citation: Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 120:38–88, 2008 January
Abstract: Precision astrometry at microarcsecond accuracy has application to a wide range of astrophysical problems. This paper is a study of the science questions that can be addressed using an instrument with flexible scheduling that delivers parallaxes at about 4 microarcsec (μas) on targets as faint as V = 20, and differential accuracy of 0.6 μas on bright targets. The science topics are drawn primarily from the Team Key Projects, selected in 2000, for the Space Interferometry Mission PlanetQuest (SIM PlanetQuest). We use the capabilities of this mission to illustrate the importance of the next level of astrometric precision in modern astrophysics. SIM PlanetQuest is currently in the detailed design phase, having completed in 2005 all of the enabling technologies needed for the flight instrument. It will be the first space-based long baseline Michelson interferometer designed for precision astrometry. SIM will contribute strongly to many astronomical fields including stellar and galactic astrophysics, planetary systems around nearby stars, and the study of quasar and AGN nuclei. Using differential astrometry SIM will search for planets with masses as small as an Earth orbiting in the ‘habitable zone’ around the nearest stars, and could discover many dozen if Earth-like planets are common. It will characterize the multiple-planet systems that are now known to exist, and it will be able to search for terrestrial planets around all of the candidate target stars in the Terrestrial Planet Finder and Darwin mission lists. It will be capable of detecting planets around young stars, thereby providing insights into how planetary systems are born and how they evolve with time. Precision astrometry allows the measurement of accurate dynamical masses for stars in binary systems.
Appears in Collections:JPL TRS 1992+

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