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Capturing Flares in Exoplanet Systems with the Upcoming Argus Pathfinder

Presentation #102.51 in the session Poster Session.

Published onJun 20, 2022
Capturing Flares in Exoplanet Systems with the Upcoming Argus Pathfinder

Argus Pathfinder will capture the complex evolution of flares occurring in exoplanetary systems and pioneer a new generation of wide-field, ultra-high-cadence optical surveys. Stellar flares are violent events which culminate in the reconnection of broken magnetic field lines in the chromosphere and generally have two characteristic phases: an impulsive rise lasting several minutes, and an exponential decay that can last several hours. Low-mass stars, having higher magnetic activity, host exoplanets whose habitabilities are affected by UV emission and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) associated with flares. These stochastic events, frequently seen on low-mass stars, occur across the whole sky yet most flares go unobserved in realtime as most current surveys do not simultaneously monitor the whole sky at faint enough depths. Without a large sample of flare lightcurves we cannot determine the long-term effects of flares on exoplanet habitability or abiogenesis. We thus need a library of flare lightcurves that captures all stages of their complex evolution at high cadence. With a large enough collection of flares that is unbiased to magnitude, spectral type, and observing strategy, we can further our understanding of magnetic evolution along the main sequence and the interactions between exoplanets and their host stars. Here we present Argus Pathfinder, a system that goes deeper than other current high-cadence wide-sky-area surveys and will push observations down to lower mass, fainter targets than have been previously accessible. This will be one of the first instruments to capture the rapid impulsive rise from flares on ultra-cool-dwarfs (UCDs) and other low-mass stars. Argus Pathfinder is the first step toward realizing the Argus Optical Array concept; an all-sky, arcsecond-resolution, 1,000-telescope array that observes 7,916 square degrees, 20% of the entire sky, down to g=19.6 every minute. Argus will enable rapid searches for high-speed transients of various origins and be the fastest broker for rapid followup observations. The early data products from Argus Pathfinder will allow us to pioneer surveys of UCD flares, occultations, and solar-system moving objects. In combination with the upcoming Argus-Spec, we expect to capture the full spectral evolution of flares as early as tens of seconds from their onset. The Argus Optical Array is currently funded at the prototype stage as Argus Pathfinder, a 48-telescope system that will demonstrate the high-speed observing modes, pipelines, and mechanical innovations required for a full-scale array and is scheduled for first light in Q3 of 2022.


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