Carnegie Institution for Science | 2017 Mar 15
When planets first begin to form, the aftermath of the process leaves a ring of rocky and icy material that’s rotating and colliding around the young central star like a celestial roller derby. Analogs to our own Solar System’s Kuiper Belt, these disks of debris left over from planet formation can be detected by astronomers and studied to help understand the processes that create planetary systems.
- Observation of HD 106906 taken by the ESO’s planet-finding tool SPHERE. The star is blacked out by a circle (which masks its glare from blinding the instrument) and the debris disk can be seen in the lower left. In the upper right is the exoplanet, HD 106906b. The simulation created by Erika Nesvold and her team accurately recreated the observed characteristics of the disk: the disk is brighter on its eastern (left) side, and oriented about 20 degrees clockwise from the planet's position on the sky.
(Credit: ESO, A.M. Lagrange (Université Grenoble Alpes)
Determining how the gravity of existing planets influences a disk’s architecture is one important area of study. Most of this research focuses on how planets that exist inside the debris disk define its shape, which is one of the few disk characteristics that can be directly observed from Earth. New work led by Carnegie’s Erika Nesvold looks at how a disk is affected by a planet that exists beyond its outermost edge, and demonstrates that the disk’s shape can indicate whether the planet formed beyond the disk, or initially existed inside of the disk and moved outward over time. The work is published by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The star HD 106906 is perfect for studying this phenomenon. It has one giant planet, about 11 times the mass of Jupiter, orbiting very far away from its host star, at least 650 times the distance between the Earth and our own Sun. This planet, HD 107906b, orbits outside of its star’s debris disk, which is about ten times closer to the star than it is. ...
HD 106906: A Case Study for External Perturbations of a Debris Disk - Erika R. Nesvold, Smadar Naoz, Michael Fitzgerald
- Astrophysical Journal Letters 837(1):L6 (2017 Mar 01) DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa61a7 arXiv.org > astro-ph > arXiv:1702.06578 > 21 Feb 2017 (v1), 23 Feb 2017 (v2)
Gigantic Jupiter-Type Planet Reveals Insights into How Planets Evolve
University of California, Los Angeles | 2017 Mar 15