Debris Disk Evolution around A Stars

The Astrophysical Journal (Impact Factor: 6.73). 12/2008; 653(1):675. DOI: 10.1086/508649
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We report 24 and/or 70 μm measurements of ~160 A-type main-sequence stars using the Multiband Imaging Photometer for Spitzer (MIPS). Their ages range from 5 to 850 Myr, based on estimates from the literature (cluster or moving group associations) or from the H-R diagram and isochrones. The thermal infrared excess is identified by comparing the deviation (~3% and ~15% at the 1 σ level at 24 and 70 μm, respectively) between the measurements and the synthetic Kurucz photospheric predictions. Stars showing excess infrared emission due to strong emission lines or extended nebulosity seen at 24 μm are excluded from our sample; therefore, the remaining infrared excesses are likely to arise from circumstellar debris disks. At the 3 σ confidence level, the excess rate at 24 and 70 μm is 32% and ≥33% (with an uncertainty of 5%), considerably higher than what has been found for old solar analogs and M dwarfs. Our measurements place constraints on the fractional dust luminosities and temperatures in the disks. We find that older stars tend to have lower fractional dust luminosity than younger ones. While the fractional luminosity from the excess infrared emission follows a general 1/t relationship, the values at a given stellar age vary by at least 2 orders of magnitude. We also find that (1) older stars possess a narrow range of temperature distribution peaking at colder temperatures, and (2) the disk emission at 70 μm persists longer than that at 24 μm. Both results suggest that the debris disk clearing process is more effective in the inner regions.

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    ABSTRACT: Main sequence stars, like the Sun, are often found to be orbited by circumstellar material that can be categorized into two groups, planets and debris. The latter is made up of asteroids and comets, as well as the dust and gas derived from them, which makes debris disks observable in thermal emission or scattered light. These disks may persist over Gyrs through steady-state evolution and/or may also experience sporadic stirring and major collisional breakups, rendering them atypically bright for brief periods of time. Most interestingly, they provide direct evidence that the physical processes (whatever they may be) that act to build large oligarchs from micron-sized dust grains in protoplanetary disks have been successful in a given system, at least to the extent of building up a significant planetesimal population comparable to that seen in the Solar System's asteroid and Kuiper belts. Such systems are prime candidates to host even larger planetary bodies as well. The recent growth in interest in debris disks has been driven by observational work that has provided statistics, resolved images, detection of gas in debris disks, and discoveries of new classes of objects. The interpretation of this vast and expanding dataset has necessitated significant advances in debris disk theory, notably in the physics of dust produced in collisional cascades and in the interaction of debris with planets. Application of this theory has led to the realization that such observations provide a powerful diagnostic that can be used not only to refine our understanding of debris disk physics, but also to challenge our understanding of how planetary systems form and evolve.
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    ABSTRACT: With a combination of adaptive optics imaging and a multi-epoch common proper motion search, we have conducted a large volume-limited (D $\le$ 75 pc) multiplicity survey of A-type stars, sensitive to companions beyond 30 au. The sample for the Volume-limited A-STar (VAST) survey consists of 435 A-type stars: 363 stars were observed with adaptive optics, 228 stars were searched for wide common proper motion companions and 156 stars were measured with both techniques. The projected separation coverage of the VAST survey extends from 30 to 45,000 au. A total of 137 stellar companions were resolved, including 64 new detections from the VAST survey, and the companion star fraction, projected separation distribution and mass ratio distribution were measured. The separation distribution forms a log-normal distribution similar to the solar-type binary distribution, but with a peak shifted to a significantly wider value of 387 (+132,-98) au. Integrating the fit to the distribution over the 30 to 10,000 au observed range, the companion star fraction for A-type stars is estimated as 33.8%+-2.6%. The mass ratio distribution of closer (<125 au) binaries is distinct from that of wider systems, with a flat distribution for close systems and a distribution that tends towards smaller mass ratios for wider binaries. Combining this result with previous spectroscopic surveys of A-type stars gives an estimate of the total companion star fraction of 68.9%+-7.0%. The most complete assessment of higher order multiples was estimated from the 156-star subset of the VAST sample with both adaptive optics and common proper motion measurements, combined with a literature search for companions, yielding a lower limit on the frequency of single, binary, triple, quadruple and quintuple A-type star systems of 56.4 (-4.0,+3.8), 32.1 (-3.5,+3.9), 9.0 (-1.8,+2.8), 1.9 (-0.6,+1.8) and 0.6 (-0.2,+1.4) per cent, respectively.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2013; 437(2). · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present medium spectral resolution ( ∼ 60,000 ) observations of the CaII K-line (3,933 Å) absorption profiles observed toward 21 nearby A-type stars thought to possess circumstellar gas debris disks. The stars were repeatedly observed over two observing runs on the 2.1 m Otto Struve telescope at the McDonald Observatory, Texas in 2011 May and 2012 November. Nightly changes in the absorption strength of the CaII K-line near the stellar radial velocity were observed in four of the stars (HD 21620, HD 110411, HD 145964 and HD 183324). This type of absorption variability indicates the presence of a circumstellar gas disk around these stars. We also have detected weak absorption features that sporadically appear with velocities in the range ± 100 km s of the main circumstellar K-line in the spectra of HD 21620, HD 42111, HD 110411 and HD 145964. Due to the known presence of both gas and dust disks surrounding these four stars, these transient absorption features are most probably associated with the presence of Falling Evaporated Bodies (FEBs, or exocomets) that are thought to liberate gas on their grazing trajectory toward and around the central star. This now brings the total number of A-type stars in which the evaporation of CaII gas from protoplanetary bodies (i.e., exocomets) has been observed to vary on a nightly basis to 10 systems. A statistical analysis of the 10 A-stars showing FEB-activity near the CaII K-line compared to 21 A-type stars that exhibit no measurable variability reveals that FEB-activity occurs in significantly younger stellar systems that also exhibit chemical peculiarities. The presence of FEB-activity does not appear to be associated with a strong mid-IR excess. This is probably linked to the disk inclination angle, since unless the viewing angle is favorable the detection of time-variable absorption may be unlikely. Additionally, if the systems are more evolved then the evaporation of gas due to FEB activity could have ceased, whereas the circumstellar dust disk may still remain.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 01/2013; 125(929):759-774. · 3.69 Impact Factor

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