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Keywords:

  • stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs;
  • planetary systems;
  • white dwarfs;
  • infrared: stars

ABSTRACT

We report limits in the planetary-mass regime for companions around the nearest single white dwarf to the Sun, van Maanen's star (vMa 2), from deep J-band imaging with Gemini North and Spitzer Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) mid-IR photometry. We find no resolved common proper motion companions to vMa 2 at separations from 3 to 45 arcsec, at a limiting magnitude of J≈ 23. Assuming a total age for the system of 4.1 ± 1 Gyr, and utilizing the latest evolutionary models for substellar objects, this limit is equivalent to companion masses >7 ± 1 MJup(Teff≈ 300 K). Taking into account the likely orbital evolution of very low mass companions in the post-main-sequence phase, these J-band observations effectively survey orbits around the white dwarf progenitor from 3 to 50 au. There is no flux excess detected in any of the complimentary Spitzer IRAC mid-IR filters. We fit a white dwarf model atmosphere to the optical BVRI, JHK and IRAC photometry. The best solution gives Teff= 6030 ± 240 K, log g= 8.10 ± 0.04 and, hence, M= 0.633 ± 0.022 M. We then place a 3σ upper limit of 10 ± 2 MJup on the mass of any unresolved companion in the 4.5 μm band.