Context. Methods used to detect giant exoplanets can be broadly divided into two categories: indirect and direct. Indirect methods are more sensitive to planets with a small orbital period, whereas direct detection is more sensitive to planets orbiting at a large distance from their host star. This dichotomy makes it difficult to combine the two techniques on a single target at once.
Aims. Simultaneous measurements made by direct and indirect techniques offer the possibility of determining the mass and luminosity of planets and a method of testing formation models. Here, we aim to show how long-baseline interferometric observations guided by radial-velocity can be used in such a way.
Methods. We observed the recently-discovered giant planet β Pictoris c with GRAVITY, mounted on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer.
Results. This study constitutes the first direct confirmation of a planet discovered through radial velocity. We find that the planet has a temperature of T = 1250 ± 50 K and a dynamical mass of M = 8.2 ± 0.8 MJup. At 18.5 ± 2.5 Myr, this puts β Pic c close to a 'hot start' track, which is usually associated with formation via disk instability. Conversely, the planet orbits at a distance of 2.7 au, which is too close for disk instability to occur. The low apparent magnitude (MK = 14.3 ± 0.1) favours a core accretion scenario.
Conclusions. We suggest that this apparent contradiction is a sign of hot core accretion, for example, due to the mass of the planetary core or the existence of a high temperature accretion shock during formation.
- Planets and satellites: detection
- Planets and satellites: formation
- Techniques: interferometric