Scott J. Kenyon

Scott J. Kenyon
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics · Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

PhD

About

513
Publications
18,513
Reads
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23,128
Citations
Introduction
I am a (primarily) theoretical astrophysicist who studies the formation and evolution of stars/planets, hypervelocity stars, and interacting binary systems. I wrote the book on Symbiotic Stars. With Lee Hartmann, I developed flared disk models for newly-formed stars and showed that FU Orionis objects are accretion disks. With Jane Luu and Ben Bromley, I developed numerical simulations for the formation of planets and debris disks.
Additional affiliations
August 1983 - present
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Position
  • Senior Researcher
September 1978 - August 1983
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Position
  • Research Assistant
September 1976 - August 1978
Arizona State University
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
August 1978 - June 1983
August 1974 - May 1978
Arizona State University
Field of study
  • Physics

Publications

Publications (513)
Article
Molecular hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the galaxy and plays important roles in planets, their circumstellar environments, and many of their host stars. We have confirmed the presence of molecular hydrogen in the AU Mic system using high-resolution FUV spectra from HST-STIS during both quiescence and a flare. AU Mic is a ∼23 Myr M dwarf...
Preprint
Full-text available
We measure the anisotropy of the Milky Way stellar halo traced by a dense sample of 18<r<21 mag F-type main sequence turnoff stars using Gaia eDR3 proper motions and new radial velocity measurements published here.
Article
We measure the anisotropy of the Milky Way stellar halo traced by a dense sample of 18 < r < 21 mag F-type main sequence turnoff stars using Gaia eDR3 proper motions and new radial velocity measurements published here.
Article
We discuss a new set of ∼500 numerical n -body calculations designed to constrain the masses and bulk densities of Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. Comparisons of different techniques for deriving the semimajor axis and eccentricity of the four satellites favor methods relying on the theory of Lee & Peale, where satellite orbits are derived in the c...
Preprint
Full-text available
We discuss a new set of $\sim$ 500 numerical n-body calculations designed to constrain the masses and bulk densities of Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra. Comparisons of different techniques for deriving the semimajor axis and eccentricity of the four satellites favor methods relying on the theory of Lee & Peale (2006), where satellite orbits are deri...
Article
The similar orbital distances and detection rates of debris disks and the prominent rings observed in protoplanetary disks suggest a potential connection between these structures. We explore this connection with new calculations that follow the evolution of rings of pebbles and planetesimals as they grow into planets and generate dusty debris. Depe...
Preprint
Full-text available
The similar orbital distances and detection rates of debris disks and the prominent rings observed in protoplanetary disks suggest a potential connection between these structures. We explore this connection with new calculations that follow the evolution of rings of pebbles and planetesimals as they grow into planets and generate dusty debris. Depe...
Article
Full-text available
WD 0145+234 is a white dwarf that is accreting metals from a circumstellar disc of planetary material. It has exhibited a substantial and sustained increase in 3–5 μm flux since 2018. Follow-up Spitzer photometry reveals that emission from the disc had begun to decrease by late 2019. Stochastic brightening events superimposed on the decline in brig...
Preprint
WD 0145+234 is a white dwarf that is accreting metals from a circumstellar disc of planetary material. It has exhibited a substantial and sustained increase in 3-5 micron flux since 2018. Follow-up Spitzer photometry reveals that emission from the disc had begun to decrease by late 2019. Stochastic brightening events superimposed on the decline in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Light echoes of flares on active stars offer the opportunity for direct detection of circumstellar dust. We revisit the problem of identifying faint echoes in post-flare light curves, focusing on debris disks from on-going planet formation. Starting with simulations, we develop an algorithm for estimating the radial extent and total mass from disk...
Article
Using a suite of numerical calculations, we consider the long-term evolution of circumbinary debris from the Pluto–Charon giant impact. Initially, these solids have large eccentricity and pericenters near Charon’s orbit. On timescales of 100–1000 yr, dynamical interactions with Pluto and Charon lead to the ejection of most solids from the system. A...
Preprint
Full-text available
Using a suite of numerical calculations, we consider the long-term evolution of circumbinary debris from the Pluto-Charon giant impact. Initially, these solids have large eccentricity and pericenters near Charon's orbit. On time scales of 100-1000 yr, dynamical interactions with Pluto and Charon lead to the ejection of most solids from the system....
Preprint
We describe a fast, approximate method to characterize the orbits of satellites around a central binary in numerical simulations. A goal is to distinguish the free eccentricity -- random motion of a satellite relative to a dynamically cool orbit -- from oscillatory modes driven by the central binary's time-varying gravitational potential. We assess...
Article
Full-text available
We consider whether equilibrium size distributions from collisional cascades match the frequency of impactors derived from New Horizons crater counts on Charon. Using an analytic model and a suite of numerical simulations, we demonstrate that collisional cascades generate wavy size distributions; the morphology of the waves depends on the binding e...
Preprint
We consider whether equilibrium size distributions from collisional cascades match the frequency of impactors derived from New Horizons crater counts on Charon (Singer et al 2019). Using an analytic model and a suite of numerical simulations, we demonstrate that collisional cascades generate wavy size distributions; the morphology of the waves depe...
Preprint
We consider a scenario where the small satellites of Pluto and Charon grew within a disk of debris from an impact between Charon and a trans-Neptunian Object (TNO). After Charon's orbital motion boosts the debris into a disk-like structure, rapid orbital damping of meter-size or smaller objects is essential to prevent the subsequent re-accretion or...
Preprint
We present the final sample of 98 detached double white dwarf (WD) binaries found in the Extremely Low Mass (ELM) Survey, a spectroscopic survey targeting <0.3 Msun He-core WDs completed in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey footprint. Over the course of the survey we observed ancillary low mass WD candidates like GD278, which we show is a P=0.19 d doubl...
Preprint
Current theory considers two options for the formation of the Pluto-Charon binary (Canup 2005, 2011; Desch 2015). In the `hit-and-run' model, a lower mass projectile barely hits the more massive Pluto, kicks up some debris, and remains bound to Pluto (see also Asphaug et al. 2006). In a `graze-and-merge' scenario, the projectile ejects substantial...
Preprint
We consider the impact of electromagnetic induction and Ohmic heating on a conducting planetary object that orbits a magnetic star. Power dissipated as heat saps orbital energy. If this heat is trapped by an insulating crust or mantle, interior temperatures increase substantially. We provide a quantitative description of this behavior and discuss t...
Preprint
During 2005-2012, images from Hubble Space Telescope (HST) revealed four moons orbiting Pluto-Charon (Weaver et al 2006, Showalter et al 2011, 2012). Although their orbits and geometric shapes are well-known, the 2$\sigma$ uncertainties in the masses of the two largest satellites - Nix and Hydra - are comparable to their HST masses (Brozovic et al...
Article
Using a large suite of n-body simulations, we explore the discovery space for new satellites in the Pluto-Charon system. For the adopted masses and orbits of the known satellites, there are few stable prograde or polar orbits with semimajor axes , where a H is the semimajor axis of the outermost moon Hydra. Small moons with radii ≲ 2 km and a ≲ 1.1...
Article
The infrared dust emission from the white dwarf GD56 is found to rise and fall by 20 per cent peak-to-peak over 11.2 yr, and is consistent with ongoing dust production and depletion. It is hypothesized that the dust is produced via collisions associated with an evolving dust disc, temporarily increasing the emitting surface of warm debris, and is s...
Article
The Disk Detective citizen science project aims to find new stars with excess 22 μm emission from circumstellar dust in the AllWISE data release from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. We evaluated 261 Disk Detective objects of interest with imaging with the Robo-AO adaptive optics instrument on the 1.5 m telescope at Palomar Observatory and...
Article
We investigate the nature of nearby (10-15 kpc) high-speed stars in the Gaia DR2 archive identified on the basis of parallax, proper motion and radial velocity. Together with a consideration of their kinematic, orbital, and photometric properties, we develop a novel strategy for evaluating whether high-speed stars are statistical outliers of the bo...
Article
A stellar flare can brighten a planet in orbit around its host star, producing a light curve with a faint echo. This echo, and others from subsequent flares, can lead to the planet's discovery, revealing its orbital configuration and physical characteristics. A challenge is that an echo is faint relative to the flare and measurement noise. Here we...
Article
We use new Gaia measurements to explore the origin of the highest velocity stars in the hypervelocity star (HVS) survey. The measurements reveal a clear pattern in B-type stars. Halo stars dominate the sample at speeds of 100 km s⁻¹ below Galactic escape velocity. Disk runaway stars have speeds up to 100 km s⁻¹ above Galactic escape velocity, but m...
Preprint
Using a large suite of n-body simulations, we explore the discovery space for new satellites in the Pluto-Charon system. For the adopted masses and orbits of the known satellites, there are few stable prograde or polar orbits with semimajor axes $a \lesssim 1.1~a_H$, where $a_H$ is the semimajor axis of the outermost moon Hydra. Small moons with ra...
Preprint
The Disk Detective citizen science project aims to find new stars with excess 22-$\mu$m emission from circumstellar dust in the AllWISE data release from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). We evaluated 261 Disk Detective objects of interest with imaging with the Robo-AO adaptive optics instrument on the 1.5m telescope at Palomar Observ...
Article
We consider how the gravity of the Galactic disk and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) modifies the radial motions of hypervelocity stars (HVSs) ejected from the Galactic center (GC). For typical HVSs ejected toward low (high) Galactic latitudes, the disk bends trajectories by up to 30° (3°-10°). For many lines of sight through the Galaxy, the LMC p...
Preprint
Full-text available
The infrared dust emission from the white dwarf GD 56 is found to rise and fall by 20% peak-to-peak over 11.2 yr, and is consistent with ongoing dust production and depletion. It is hypothesized that the dust is produced via collisions associated with an evolving dust disk, temporarily increasing the emitting surface of warm debris, and is subseque...
Preprint
A stellar flare can brighten a planet in orbit around its host star, producing a lightcurve with a faint echo. This echo, and others from subsequent flares, can lead to the planet's discovery, revealing its orbital configuration and physical characteristics. A challenge is that an echo is faint relative to the flare and measurement noise. Here, we...
Preprint
We investigate the nature of nearby (10-15 kpc) high-speed stars in the Gaia DR2 archive identified on the basis of parallax, proper motion and radial velocity. Together with a consideration of their kinematic, orbital, and photometric properties, we develop a novel strategy for evaluating whether high speed stars are statistical outliers of the bo...
Preprint
We consider how the gravity of the Galactic disk and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) modifies the radial motions of hypervelocity stars (HVSs) ejected from the Galactic Center. For typical HVSs ejected towards low (high) Galactic latitudes, the disk bends trajectories by up to 30 degrees (3-10 deg). For many lines-of-sight through the Galaxy, the...
Preprint
We use new Gaia measurements to explore the origin of stars from the Hypervelocity Star Survey as a function of velocity. Stars with >+450 km/s radial velocities, about >100 km/s above Galactic escape velocity at the depth of our survey, originate from the Galactic center. Two bound stars may also originate from the Galactic center. Galactic disk r...
Article
The recent "Planet Nine" hypothesis has led to many observational and archival searches for this giant planet proposed to orbit the Sun at hundreds of astronomical units. While trans-Neptunian object searches are typically conducted in the optical, models suggest Planet Nine could be self-luminous and potentially bright enough at ∼3-5 μm to be dete...
Article
We analyze $\sim$32 years of optical spectra and photometry for the symbiotic binary PU Vul. Light curves for the He I $\lambda$4471, He II $\lambda$4686 and H$\beta$ $\lambda$4861 emission lines reveal an illumination effect, where the hot white dwarf ionizes the outflowing wind of the red giant, and evidence for an eccentric orbit with e $\approx...
Article
Full-text available
The recent 'Planet Nine' hypothesis has led to many observational and archival searches for this giant planet proposed to orbit the Sun at hundreds of astronomical units. While trans-Neptunian object searches are typically conducted in the optical, models suggest Planet Nine could be self-luminous and potentially bright enough at ~3-5 microns to be...
Article
Full-text available
HD 100546 is a young, early-type star and key laboratory for studying gas giant planet formation. GPI data taken in 2015 and reported by Currie et al. (2015) recover the previously-identified protoplanet candidate HD 100546 b and identify a second emission source at ~13--14 au: either a disk hot spot or a second protoplanetary candidate (HD 100546...
Article
Full-text available
We consider the long-term evolution of gaseous disks fed by the vaporization of small particles produced in a collisional cascade inside the Roche limit of a 0.6 Msun white dwarf. Adding solids with radius \r0\ at a constant rate $\dot{M}_0$ into a narrow annulus leads to two distinct types of evolution. When $\dot{M}_0 > \dot{M}_{0,crit}$ = $3 \ti...
Article
Meteorites provide precious clues about the formation of planets in the solar system. Here, an analytical method to study chondritic meteorites using low- and high-resolution micro-Raman spectroscopy is presented. An approach in mapping the distribution of the mineral compositions of a sample is introduced by measuring ∼10⁴ Raman spectra along line...
Article
Full-text available
We consider the long-term collisional and dynamical evolution of solid material orbiting in a narrow annulus near the Roche limit of a white dwarf. With orbital velocities of 300 km/sec, systems of solids with initial eccentricity $e \gtrsim 10^{-3}$ generate a collisional cascade where objects with radii $r \lesssim$ 100--300 km are ground to dust...
Article
We examine the possibility that icy super-Earth mass planets, formed over long time scales (0.1--1~Gyr) at large distances ($\sim$ 200--1000~AU) from their host stars, will develop massive H-rich atmospheres. Within the interior of these planets, high pressure converts CH$_4$ into ethane, butane, or diamond and releases H$_2$. Using simplified mode...
Article
Full-text available
We consider a dynamical shake-up model to explain the low mass of Mars and the lack of planets in the asteroid belt. In our scenario, a secular resonance with Jupiter sweeps through the inner solar system as the solar nebula depletes, pitting resonant excitation against collisional damping in the Sun's protoplanetary disk. We report the outcome of...
Article
Full-text available
We derive a new analytical model for the evolution of a collisional cascade in a thin annulus around a single central star. In this model, $r_{max}~$ the size of the largest object declines with time (t); $r_{max} \propto t^{-\gamma}$, with $\gamma$ = 0.1-0.2. Compared to standard models where $r_{max}~$ is constant in time, this evolution results...
Article
Full-text available
A distant, as yet unseen ninth planet has been invoked to explain various observations of the outer solar system. While such a 'Planet Nine', if it exists, is most likely to be discovered via reflected light in the optical, it may emit much more strongly at 3$-$5$\mu$m than simple blackbody predictions would suggest, depending on its atmospheric pr...
Article
We reconsider the commonly held assumption that warm debris disks are tracers of terrestrial planet formation. The high occurrence rate inferred for Earth-mass planets around mature solar-type stars based on exoplanet surveys (roughly 20%) stands in stark contrast to the low incidence rate (less than 2-3%) of warm dusty debris around solar-type sta...
Article
Full-text available
The Disk Detective citizen science project aims to find new stars with 22 micron excess emission from circumstellar dust using data from NASA's WISE mission. Initial cuts on the AllWISE catalog provide an input catalog of 277,686 sources. Volunteers then view images of each source online in 10 different bands to identify false-positives (galaxies,...
Article
Full-text available
We analyze a roughly 20 yr set of spectroscopic observations for the symbiotic binary EG And. Radial velocities derived from echelle spectra are best-fit with a circular orbit having orbital period P = 483.3 +- 1.6 days and semi-amplitude K = 7.34 +- 0.07 km/sec. Combined with previous data, these observations rule out an elliptical orbit at the 10...
Article
We estimate the merger rate of double degenerate binaries containing extremely low mass (ELM; M ⊙) white dwarfs (WDs) in the Galaxy. Such WDs are detectable for timescales of 0.1–1 Gyr in the ELM Survey; the binaries they reside in have gravitational wave merger times of 0.001–100 Gyr. To explain the observed distribution requires that most ELM WD...
Article
Full-text available
Correlations in the orbits of several minor planets in the outer solar system suggest the presence of a remote, massive Planet Nine. With at least ten times the mass of the Earth and a perihelion well beyond 100 AU, Planet Nine poses a challenge to planet formation theory. Here we expand on a scenario in which the planet formed closer to the Sun an...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate the formation of icy super-Earth mass planets within a gravitationally unstable ring of solids orbiting at 250-750 AU around a 1 solar mass star. Coagulation calculations demonstrate that a system of a few large oligarchs and a swarm of pebbles generates a super-Earth within 100-200 Myr at 250 AU and within 1-2 Gyr at 750 AU. Systems...
Article
We present the discovery of 15 extremely low mass (5 < log g < 7) white dwarf candidates, 9 of which are in ultra-compact double-degenerate binaries. Our targeted ELM Survey sample now includes 76 binaries. The sample has a lognormal distribution of orbital periods with a median period of 5.4 hr. The velocity amplitudes imply that the binary compan...
Article
Full-text available
We analyze two new sets of coagulation calculations for solid particles orbiting within the terrestrial zone of a solar-type star. In models of collisional cascades, numerical simulations demonstrate that the total mass, the mass in 1 mm and smaller particles, and the dust luminosity decline with time more rapidly than predicted by analytic models,...
Article
Full-text available
We report Gemini Planet Imager H band high-contrast imaging/integral field spectroscopy and polarimetry of the HD 100546, a 10 $Myr$-old early-type star recently confirmed to host a thermal infrared bright (super)jovian protoplanet at wide separation, HD 100546 b. We resolve the inner disk cavity in polarized light, recover the thermal-infrared (IR...
Article
Full-text available
We present the discovery of 11 new double degenerate systems containing extremely low-mass white dwarfs (ELM WDs). Our radial velocity observations confirm that all of the targets have orbital periods ≤ 1 day. We perform spectroscopic fits and provide a complete set of physical and binary parameters. We review and compare recent evolutionary calcul...
Article
Full-text available
We describe an extensive suite of numerical calculations for the collisional evolution of irregular satellite swarms around 1--300 M-earth planets orbiting at 120 AU in the Fomalhaut system. For 10--100 M-earth planets, swarms with initial masses of roughly 1% of the planet mass have cross-sectional areas comparable to the observed cross-sectional...
Article
Full-text available
We measure the three components of velocity dispersion, $\sigma_{R},\sigma_{\theta},\sigma_{\phi}$, for stars within 6 < R < 30 kpc of the Milky Way using a new radial velocity sample from the MMT telescope. We combine our measurements with previously published data so that we can more finely sample the stellar halo. We use a maximum likelihood sta...
Article
Images from the Hubble Space Telescope cast new light on the orbits, shapes and sizes of Pluto's small satellites. The analysis comes just before a planned reconnaissance by the first spacecraft to visit them. See Article p.45
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Full-text available
We describe the discovery of a bright, young Kuiper belt-like debris disk around HD 115600, a $\sim$ 1.4--1.5 M$_\mathrm{\odot}$, $\sim$ 15 Myr old member of the Sco-Cen OB Association. Our H-band coronagraphy/integral field spectroscopy from the \textit{Gemini Planet Imager} shows the ring has a (luminosity scaled) semi major axis of ($\sim$ 22 AU...
Article
Full-text available
We consider the formation of satellites around the Pluto-Charon binary. An early collision between the two partners likely produced the binary and a narrow ring of debris, out of which arose the moons -- Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra. Yet how the satellites emerged from the compact ring is uncertain. Here we show that a particle ring can spread fro...
Article
Full-text available
We examine characteristics of circumbinary orbits in the context of current planet formation scenarios. Analytical perturbation theory predicts the existence of nested circumbinary orbits that are generalizations of circular orbits in a Keplerian potential. They contain forced epicyclic motion aligned with the binary as well as higher frequency osc...
Article
Full-text available
We measure proper motions with the Hubble Space Telescope for 16 extreme radial velocity stars, mostly unbound B stars in the Milky Way halo. Twelve of these stars have proper motions statistically consistent with zero, and thus have radial trajectories statistically consistent with a Galactic center "hypervelocity star" origin. The trajectory of H...
Article
Full-text available
We investigate pathways for the formation of icy super-Earth mass planets orbiting at 125-250 AU around a 1 solar mass star. An extensive suite of coagulation calculations demonstrates that swarms of 1 cm to 10 m planetesimals can form super-Earth mass planets on time scales of 1-3 Gyr. Collisional damping of 0.01-100 cm particles during oligarchic...
Article
Full-text available
As gas giant planets evolve, they may scatter other planets far from their original orbits to produce hot Jupiters or rogue planets that are not gravitationally bound to any star. Here, we consider planets cast out to large orbital distances on eccentric, bound orbits through a gaseous disk. With simple numerical models, we show that super-Earths c...
Article
Full-text available
The high rate of planet detection among solar-type stars argues that planet formation is common. It is also generally assumed that planets form in protoplanetary discs like those observed in nearby star-forming regions. On what time-scale does the transformation from discs to planets occur? Here, we show that current inventories of planets and prot...
Article
Full-text available
We present new $L^\prime$ (3.8 $\mu m$) and Br-$\alpha$ (4.05 $\mu m$) data and reprocessed archival $L^\prime$ data for the young, planet-hosting star HR 8799 obtained with Keck/NIRC2, VLT/NaCo and Subaru/IRCS. We detect all four HR 8799 planets in each dataset at a moderate to high signal-to-noise (SNR $\gtrsim$ 6-15). We fail to identify a fifth...