The LEECH exoplanet imaging survey: Limits on planet occurrence rates under conservative assumptions

Jordan M. Stone, Andrew J. Skemer, Philip M. Hinz, Mariangela Bonavita, Kaitlin M. Kratter, Anne Lise Maire, Denis Defrere, Vanessa P. Bailey, Eckhart Spalding, Jarron M. Leisenring, S. Desidera, M. Bonnefoy, Beth Biller, Charles E. Woodward, Th Henning, Michael F. Skrutskie, J. A. Eisner, Justin R. Crepp, Jennifer Patience, Gerd WeigeltRobert J. De Rosa, Joshua Schlieder, Wolfgang Brandner, Dániel Apai, Kate Su, Steve Ertel, Kimberly Ward-Duong, Katie M. Morzinski, Dieter Schertl, Karl Heinz Hofmann, Laird M. Close, Stefan S. Brems, Jonathan J. Fortney, Apurva Oza, Esther Buenzli, Brandon Bass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We present the results of the largest L' (3.8 μm) direct imaging survey for exoplanets to date, the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer Exozodi Exoplanet Common Hunt (LEECH). We observed 98 stars with spectral types from B to M. Cool planets emit a larger share of their flux in L' compared to shorter wavelengths, affording LEECH an advantage in detecting low-mass, old, and cold-start giant planets. We emphasize proximity over youth in our target selection, probing physical separations smaller than other direct imaging surveys. For FGK stars, LEECH outperforms many previous studies, placing tighter constraints on the hot-start planet occurrence frequency interior to ~20 au. For less luminous, cold-start planets, LEECH provides the best constraints on giant-planet frequency interior to ~20 au around FGK stars. Direct imaging survey results depend sensitively on both the choice of evolutionary model (e.g., hot- or coldstart) and assumptions (explicit or implicit) about the shape of the underlying planet distribution, in particular its radial extent. Artificially low limits on the planet occurrence frequency can be derived when the shape of the planet distribution is assumed to extend to very large separations, well beyond typical protoplanetary dust-disk radii (≤50 au), and when hot-start models are used exclusively. We place a conservative upper limit on the planet occurrence frequency using coldstart models and planetary population distributions that do not extend beyond typical protoplanetary dust-disk radii. We find that ≤90% of FGK systems can host a 7-10 MJupplanet from 5 to 50 au. This limit leaves open the possibility thatplanets in this range are common.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaaec00
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2018


  • Gaseous planets - stars
  • High angular resolution
  • Imaging - techniques
  • Planetary systems - planets and satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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  • The LEECH exoplanet imaging survey

    Stone, J. M. (Creator), Skemer, A. J. (Creator), Hinz, P. M. (Creator), Bonavita, M. (Creator), Kratter, K. M. (Creator), Maire, A. (Creator), Defrere, D. (Creator), Bailey, V. P. (Creator), Spalding, E. (Creator), Leisenring, J. M. (Creator), Desidera, S. (Creator), Bonnefoy, M. (Creator), Biller, B. (Creator), Woodward, C. E. (Creator), Skrutskie, M. F. (Creator), Eisner, J. A. (Creator), Crepp, J. R. (Creator), Patience, J. (Creator), Weigelt, G. (Creator), De Rosa, R. J. (Creator), Schlieder, J. (Creator), Brandner, W. (Creator), Apai, D. (Creator), Su, K. (Creator), Ertel, S. (Creator), Ward-Duong, K. (Creator), Morzinski, K. M. (Creator), Schertl, D. (Creator), Hofmann, K. (Creator), Close, L. M. (Creator), Brems, S. S. (Creator), Fortney, J. J. (Creator), Oza, A. (Creator), Buenzli, E. (Creator), Bass, B. (Creator), Maire, A. (Creator), Bailey, V. P. (Creator), Bonnefoy, M. (Creator), Biller, B. (Creator), Woodward, C. E. (Creator), Henning, T. (Creator), De Rosa, R. J. (Creator) & Morzinski, K. M. (Creator), Centre de Donnees Strasbourg (CDS), 2019


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