References of "Ertel, S"
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See detailResolved astrometric orbits of ten O-type binaries
Le Bouquin, J.-B.; Sana, H.; Gosset, Eric ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 601

Our long term aim is to derive model-independent stellar masses and distances for long period massive binaries by combining apparent astrometric orbit with double-lined radial velocity amplitudes (SB2 ... [more ▼]

Our long term aim is to derive model-independent stellar masses and distances for long period massive binaries by combining apparent astrometric orbit with double-lined radial velocity amplitudes (SB2). We follow-up ten O+O binaries with AMBER, PIONIER and GRAVITY at the VLTI. Here, we report about 130 astrometric observations over the last 7 years. We combine this dataset with distance estimates to compute the total mass of the systems. We also compute preliminary individual component masses for the five systems with available SB2 radial velocities. Nine over the ten binaries have their three dimensional orbit well constrained. Four of them are known colliding wind, non-thermal radio emitters, and thus constitute valuable targets for future high angular resolution radio imaging. Two binaries break the correlation between period and eccentricity tentatively observed in previous studies. It suggests either that massive star formation produce a wide range of systems, or that several binary formation mechanisms are at play. Finally, we found that the use of existing SB2 radial velocity amplitudes can lead to unrealistic masses and distances. If not understood, the biases in radial velocity amplitudes will represent an intrinsic limitation for estimating dynamical masses from SB2+interferometry or SB2+Gaia. Nevertheless, our results can be combined with future Gaia astrometry to measure the dynamical masses and distances of the individual components with an accuracy of 5 to 15\%, completely independently of the radial velocities. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst scattered-light images of the gas-rich debris disk around 49 Ceti
Choquet, É.; Milli, J.; Wahhaj, Z. et al

in Astrophysical Journal Letters (2017), 834(2), 12

We present the first scattered-light images of the debris disk around 49 ceti, a ~40 Myr A1 main sequence star at 59 pc, famous for hosting two massive dust belts as well as large quantities of atomic and ... [more ▼]

We present the first scattered-light images of the debris disk around 49 ceti, a ~40 Myr A1 main sequence star at 59 pc, famous for hosting two massive dust belts as well as large quantities of atomic and molecular gas. The outer disk is revealed in reprocessed archival Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS F110W images, as well as new coronagraphic H band images from the Very Large Telescope SPHERE instrument. The disk extends from 1.1" (65 AU) to 4.6" (250 AU), and is seen at an inclination of 73degr, which refines previous measurements at lower angular resolution. We also report no companion detection larger than 3 M_Jup at projected separations beyond 20 AU from the star (0.34"). Comparison between the F110W and H-band images is consistent with a grey color of 49 ceti's dust, indicating grains larger than >2microns. Our photometric measurements indicate a scattering efficiency / infrared excess ratio of 0.2-0.4, relatively low compared to other characterized debris disks. We find that 49 ceti presents morphological and scattering properties very similar to the gas-rich HD 131835 system. From our constraint on the disk inclination we find that the atomic gas previously detected in absorption must extend to the inner disk, and that the latter must be depleted of CO gas. Building on previous studies, we propose a schematic view of the system describing the dust and gas structure around 49 ceti and hypothetic scenarios for the gas nature and origin. [less ▲]

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See detailDiscovery of a low-mass companion inside the debris ring surrounding the F5V star HD 206893
Milli, J.; Hibon, P.; Christiaens, Valentin ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2017), 597

<BR /> Aims: Uncovering the ingredients and the architecture of planetary systems is a very active field of research that has fuelled many new theories on giant planet formation, migration, composition ... [more ▼]

<BR /> Aims: Uncovering the ingredients and the architecture of planetary systems is a very active field of research that has fuelled many new theories on giant planet formation, migration, composition, and interaction with the circumstellar environment. We aim at discovering and studying new such systems, to further expand our knowledge of how low-mass companions form and evolve. <BR /> Methods: We obtained high-contrast H-band images of the circumstellar environment of the F5V star HD 206893, known to host a debris disc never detected in scattered light. These observations are part of the SPHERE High Angular Resolution Debris Disc Survey (SHARDDS) using the InfraRed Dual-band Imager and Spectrograph (IRDIS) installed on VLT/SPHERE. <BR /> Results: We report the detection of a source with a contrast of 3.6 × 10[SUP]-5[/SUP] in the H-band, orbiting at a projected separation of 270 milliarcsec or 10 au, corresponding to a mass in the range 24 to 73 M[SUB]Jup[/SUB] for an age of the system in the range 0.2 to 2 Gyr. The detection was confirmed ten months later with VLT/NaCo, ruling out a background object with no proper motion. A faint extended emission compatible with the disc scattered light signal is also observed. <BR /> Conclusions: The detection of a low-mass companion inside a massive debris disc makes this system an analog of other young planetary systems such as β Pictoris, HR 8799 or HD 95086 and requires now further characterisation of both components to understand their interactions. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris-disc stars. V. PIONIER search for variability
Ertel, S.; Defrere, Denis ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 595

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other ... [more ▼]

Context. Extended circumstellar emission has been detected within a few 100 milli-arcsec around ≳10% of nearby main sequence stars using near-infrared interferometry. Follow-up observations using other techniques, should they yield similar results or non-detections, can provide strong constraints on the origin of the emission. They can also reveal the variability of the phenomenon. Aims: We aim to demonstrate the persistence of the phenomenon over the timescale of a few years and to search for variability of our previously detected excesses. Methods: Using Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI)/Precision Integrated Optics Near Infrared ExpeRiment (PIONIER) in H band we have carried out multi-epoch observations of the stars for which a near-infrared excess was previously detected using the same observation technique and instrument. The detection rates and distribution of the excesses from our original survey and the follow-up observations are compared statistically. A search for variability of the excesses in our time series is carried out based on the level of the broadband excesses. Results: In 12 of 16 follow-up observations, an excess is re-detected with a significance of > 2σ, and in 7 of 16 follow-up observations significant excess (> 3σ) is re-detected. We statistically demonstrate with very high confidence that the phenomenon persists for the majority of the systems. We also present the first detection of potential variability in two sources. Conclusions: We conclude that the phenomenon responsible for the excesses persists over the timescale of a few years for the majority of the systems. However, we also find that variability intrinsic to a target can cause it to have no significant excess at the time of a specific observation. [less ▲]

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See detailExocomet signatures around the A-shell star φ Leonis?
Eiroa, C.; Rebollido, I.; Montesinos, B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2016), 594

We present an intensive monitoring of high-resolution spectra of the Ca ii K line in the A7IV shell star φ Leo at very short (minutes, hours), short (night to night), and medium (weeks, months) timescales ... [more ▼]

We present an intensive monitoring of high-resolution spectra of the Ca ii K line in the A7IV shell star φ Leo at very short (minutes, hours), short (night to night), and medium (weeks, months) timescales. The spectra show remarkable variable absorptions on timescales of hours, days, and months. The characteristics of these sporadic events are very similar to most that are observed toward the debris disk host star β Pic, which are commonly interpreted as signs of the evaporation of solid, comet-like bodies grazing or falling onto the star. Therefore, our results suggest the presence of solid bodies around φ Leo. To our knowledge, with the exception of β Pic, our monitoring has the best time resolution at the mentioned timescales for a star with events attributed to exocomets. Assuming the cometary scenario and considering the timescales of our monitoring, our results indicate that φ Leo presents the richest environment with comet-like events known to date, second only to β Pic. [less ▲]

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See detailOverview of LBTI: a multipurpose facility for high spatial resolution observations
Hinz, P. M.; Defrere, Denis ULg; Skemer, A. et al

in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series (2016, August 01)

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a high spatial resolution instrument developed for coherent imaging and nulling interferometry using the 14.4 m baseline of the 2×8.4 m LBT. The ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a high spatial resolution instrument developed for coherent imaging and nulling interferometry using the 14.4 m baseline of the 2×8.4 m LBT. The unique telescope design, comprising of the dual apertures on a common elevation-azimuth mount, enables a broad use of observing modes. The full system is comprised of dual adaptive optics systems, a near-infrared phasing camera, a 1-5 μm camera (called LMIRCam), and an 8-13 μm camera (called NOMIC). The key program for LBTI is the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS), a survey using nulling interferometry to constrain the typical brightness from exozodiacal dust around nearby stars. Additional observations focus on the detection and characterization of giant planets in the thermal infrared, high spatial resolution imaging of complex scenes such as Jupiter's moon, Io, planets forming in transition disks, and the structure of active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). Several instrumental upgrades are currently underway to improve and expand the capabilities of LBTI. These include: Improving the performance and limiting magnitude of the parallel adaptive optics systems; quadrupling the field of view of LMIRcam (increasing to 20"x20"); adding an integral field spectrometry mode; and implementing a new algorithm for path length correction that accounts for dispersion due to atmospheric water vapor. We present the current architecture and performance of LBTI, as well as an overview of the upgrades. [less ▲]

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See detailEnabling the direct detection of earth-sized exoplanets with the LBTI HOSTS project: a progress report
Danchi, W.; Bailey, V.; Bryden, G. et al

in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series (2016, August 01)

NASA has funded a project called the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems (HOSTS) to survey nearby solar type stars to determine the amount of warm zodiacal dust in their habitable zones ... [more ▼]

NASA has funded a project called the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Systems (HOSTS) to survey nearby solar type stars to determine the amount of warm zodiacal dust in their habitable zones. The goal is not only to determine the luminosity distribution function but also to know which individual stars have the least amount of zodiacal dust. It is important to have this information for future missions that directly image exoplanets as this dust is the main source of astrophysical noise for them. The HOSTS project utilizes the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), which consists of two 8.4-m apertures separated by a 14.4-m baseline on Mt. Graham, Arizona. The LBTI operates in a nulling mode in the mid-infrared spectral window (8-13 μm), in which light from the two telescopes is coherently combined with a 180 degree phase shift between them, producing a dark fringe at the location of the target star. In doing so the starlight is greatly reduced, increasing the contrast, analogous to a coronagraph operating at shorter wavelengths. The LBTI is a unique instrument, having only three warm reflections before the starlight reaches cold mirrors, giving it the best photometric sensitivity of any interferometer operating in the mid-infrared. It also has a superb Adaptive Optics (AO) system giving it Strehl ratios greater than 98% at 10 μm. In 2014 into early 2015 LBTI was undergoing commissioning. The HOSTS project team passed its Operational Readiness Review (ORR) in April 2015. The team recently published papers on the target sample, modeling of the nulled disk images, and initial results such as the detection of warm dust around η Corvi. Recently a paper was published on the data pipeline and on-sky performance. An additional paper is in preparation on β Leo. We will discuss the scientific and programmatic context for the LBTI project, and we will report recent progress, new results, and plans for the science verification phase that started in February 2016, and for the survey. [less ▲]

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See detailPolarization Measurements of Hot Dust Stars and the Local Interstellar Medium
Marshall, J. P.; Cotton, D. V.; Bott, K. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 825

Debris discs are typically revealed through the presence of excess emission at infrared wavelengths. Most discs exhibit excess at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, analogous to the solar system’s ... [more ▼]

Debris discs are typically revealed through the presence of excess emission at infrared wavelengths. Most discs exhibit excess at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, analogous to the solar system’s Asteroid and Edgeworth-Kuiper belts. Recently, stars with strong (˜1%) excess at near-infrared wavelengths were identified through interferometric measurements. Using the HIgh Precision Polarimetric Instrument, we examined a sub-sample of these hot dust stars (and appropriate controls) at parts-per-million sensitivity in SDSS g‧ (green) and r‧ (red) filters for evidence of scattered light. No detection of strongly polarized emission from the hot dust stars is seen. We, therefore, rule out scattered light from a normal debris disk as the origin of this emission. A wavelength-dependent contribution from multiple dust components for hot dust stars is inferred from the dispersion (the difference in polarization angle in red and green) of southern stars. Contributions of 17 ppm (green) and 30 ppm (red) are calculated, with strict 3-σ upper limits of 76 and 68 ppm, respectively. This suggests weak hot dust excesses consistent with thermal emission, although we cannot rule out contrived scenarios, e.g., dust in a spherical shell or face-on discs. We also report on the nature of the local interstellar medium (ISM), obtained as a byproduct of the control measurements. Highlights include the first measurements of the polarimetric color of the local ISM and the discovery of a southern sky region with a polarization per distance thrice the previous maximum. The data suggest that λ [SUB]max[/SUB], the wavelength of maximum polarization, is bluer than typical. [less ▲]

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See detailSimultaneous Water Vapor and Dry Air Optical Path Length Measurements and Compensation with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P.; Downey, E. et al

in Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series (2016)

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer uses a near-infrared camera to measure the optical path length variations between the two AO-corrected apertures and provide high-angular resolution ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer uses a near-infrared camera to measure the optical path length variations between the two AO-corrected apertures and provide high-angular resolution observations for all its science channels (1.5-13 microns). There is however a wavelength dependent component to the atmospheric turbulence, which can introduce optical path length errors when observing at a wavelength different from that of the fringe sensing camera. Water vapor in particular is highly dispersive and its effect must be taken into account for high-precision infrared interferometric observations as described previously for VLTI/MIDI or the Keck Interferometer Nuller. In this paper, we describe the new sensing approach that has been developed at the LBT to measure and monitor the optical path length fluctuations due to dry air and water vapor separately. After reviewing the current performance of the system for dry air seeing compensation, we present simultaneous H-, K-, and N-band observations that illustrate the feasibility of our feedforward approach to stabilize the path length fluctuations seen by the LBTI nuller. [less ▲]

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See detailAn Unbiased Near-infrared Interferometric Survey for Hot Exozodiacal Dust
Ertel, S.; Augereau, J.-C.; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

in The Messenger (2015), 159

Exozodiacal dust is warm or hot dust found in the inner regions of planetary systems orbiting main sequence stars, in or around their habitable zones. The dust can be the most luminous component of ... [more ▼]

Exozodiacal dust is warm or hot dust found in the inner regions of planetary systems orbiting main sequence stars, in or around their habitable zones. The dust can be the most luminous component of extrasolar planetary systems, but predominantly emits in the near- to mid-infrared where it is outshone by the host star. Interferometry provides a unique method of separating this dusty emission from the stellar emission. The visitor instrument PIONIER at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) has been used to search for hot exozodiacal dust around a large sample of nearby main sequence stars. The results of this survey are summarised: 9 out of 85 stars show excess exo- zodiacal emission over the stellar photospheric emission. [less ▲]

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See detailPrevalence of exozodiacal dust
Defrere, Denis ULg; Ertel, S.; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

Speech/Talk (2015)

hen observing an extrasolar planetary system, the most luminous component after the star itself is generally the light scattered and/or thermally emitted by a population of micron-sized dust grains. These ... [more ▼]

hen observing an extrasolar planetary system, the most luminous component after the star itself is generally the light scattered and/or thermally emitted by a population of micron-sized dust grains. These grains are expected to be continuously replenished by the collisions and evaporation of larger bodies just as in our solar zodiacal cloud. Exozodiacal clouds (“exozodis”) must therefore be seriously taken into account when attempting to directly image exoEarths. With this satellite meeting, we propose to discuss the progress made in the field since Pathways I (2009) and review the pathways to improve our knowledge on exozodis in regard of new observational results (completed near- and mid-infrared interferometric surveys, WISE, and Herschel) and new analyses on the impact of exozodis on the direct detection of exoEarths. [less ▲]

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See detailSearching for faint companions with VLTI/PIONIER. II. 92 main sequence stars from the Exozodi survey
Marion, Lindsay ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Ertel, S. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2014), 570

Context. The Exozodi survey aims to determine the occurrence rate of bright exozodiacal discs around nearby main sequence stars using infrared interferometry. Although the Exozodi survey targets have been ... [more ▼]

Context. The Exozodi survey aims to determine the occurrence rate of bright exozodiacal discs around nearby main sequence stars using infrared interferometry. Although the Exozodi survey targets have been carefully selected to avoid the presence of binary stars, the results of this survey can still be biased by the presence of unidentified stellar companions. <BR /> Aims: Using the PIONIER data set collected within the Exozodi survey in 2012, we aim to search for the signature of point-like companions around the Exozodi target stars. <BR /> Methods: We make use of both the closure phases and squared visibilities collected by PIONIER to search for companions within the ~100 mas interferometric field of view. The presence of a companion is assessed by computing the goodness of fit to the data for a series of binary models with various separations and contrasts. <BR /> Results: Five stellar companions are resolved for the first time around five A-type stars: HD 4150, HD 16555, HD 29388, HD 202730, and HD 224392 (although the companion to HD 16555 was independently resolved by speckle interferometry while we were carrying out the survey). In the most likely case of main sequence companions, their spectral types range from A5V to K4V. Three of these stars were already suspected to be binaries from Hipparcos astrometric measurements, although no information was available on the companions themselves so far. In addition to debiasing the statistics of the Exozodi survey, these results can also be used to revise the fraction of visual binaries among A-type stars, suggesting that an extra ~13% A-type stars are visual binaries in addition to the ones detected in previous direct imaging surveys. <BR /> Conclusions: We estimate that about half the population of nearby A-type stars could be resolved as visual binaries using a combination of state-of-the-art interferometry and single-aperture imaging, and we suggest that a significant fraction of these binaries remains undetected to date. [less ▲]

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See detailA near-infrared interferometric survey of debris-disk stars. IV. An unbiased sample of 92 southern stars observed in H band with VLTI/PIONIER
Ertel, S.; Absil, Olivier ULg; Defrere, Denis ULg et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2014), 570

Context. Detecting and characterizing circumstellar dust is a way to study the architecture and evolution of planetary systems. Cold dust in debris disks only traces the outer regions. Warm and hot ... [more ▼]

Context. Detecting and characterizing circumstellar dust is a way to study the architecture and evolution of planetary systems. Cold dust in debris disks only traces the outer regions. Warm and hot exozodiacal dust needs to be studied in order to trace regions close to the habitable zone. <BR /> Aims: We aim to determine the prevalence and to constrain the properties of hot exozodiacal dust around nearby main-sequence stars. <BR /> Methods: We searched a magnitude-limited (H <= 5) sample of 92 stars for bright exozodiacal dust using our VLTI visitor instrument PIONIER in the H band. We derived statistics of the detection rate with respect to parameters, such as the stellar spectral type and age or the presence of a debris disk in the outer regions of the systems. We derived more robust statistics by combining our sample with the results from our CHARA/FLUOR survey in the K band. In addition, our spectrally dispersed data allowed us to put constraints on the emission mechanism and the dust properties in the detected systems. <BR /> Results: We find an overall detection rate of bright exozodiacal dust in the H band of 11% (9 out of 85 targets) and three tentative detections. The detection rate decreases from early type to late type stars and increases with the age of the host star. We do not confirm the tentative correlation between the presence of cold and hot dust found in our earlier analysis of the FLUOR sample alone. Our spectrally dispersed data suggest that either the dust is extremely hot or the emission is dominated by the scattered light in most cases. The implications of our results for the target selection of future terrestrial planet-finding missions using direct imaging are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailUnveiling new stellar companions from the PIONIER exozodi survey
Marion, Lindsay ULg; Absil, Olivier ULg; Ertel, S. et al

in Rajagopal, Jayadev; Creech-Eakman; Malbet, Fabien (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry IV (2014, July 24)

The main goal of the EXOZODI survey is to detect and characterize circumstellar dust and to propose the first statistical study of exozodiacal disks in the near-infrared using telescopes in both ... [more ▼]

The main goal of the EXOZODI survey is to detect and characterize circumstellar dust and to propose the first statistical study of exozodiacal disks in the near-infrared using telescopes in both hemispheres (VLTI and CHARA). For this purpose, Ertel et al. have conducted in 2012 a survey of nearby main sequence stars with VLTI/PIONIER to search for the presence of circumstellar dust. This survey, carried out during 12 nights, comprises about 100 stars. For each star, we obtained typically three OBs and we searched for circumstellar emission based on the measurement of squared visibilities at short baselines. A drop in the measured visibilities with respect to the expected photospheric visibility indicates the presence of resolved emission around the target star. It is however generally not possible to conclude on the morphology of the detected emission based solely on the squared visibilities. Here, we focus on closure phases to search systematically for faint companions around the whole sample. Indeed, to derive robust statistics on the occurrence rate of bright exozodiacal disks, we need to discriminate between companions and disks. For this reason, the main goal of this paper is to discriminate between circumstellar disks (which show no closure phase provided that they are point-symmetric) and faint companions (point-like sources, creating non-zero closure phases). We also aim to reveal new companions that do not necessarily produce a significant signature in the squared visibilities, as the signature of the companion may show up more prominently in the closure phases. In this process, we reveal four new stellar companions with contrasts ranging from 2% to 95% (i.e., up to near-equal flux binaries). We also tentatively detect faint companions around one other target that will require follow-up observations to be confirmed or infirmed. We discuss the implications of these discoveries on the results of the exozodi survey. [less ▲]

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See detailAlignment in star-debris disc systems seen by Herschel
Greaves, J. S.; Kennedy, G. M.; Thureau, N. et al

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society : Letters (2014), 438

Many nearby main-sequence stars have been searched for debris using the far-infrared Herschel satellite, within the DEBRIS, DUNES and Guaranteed-Time Key Projects. We discuss here 11 stars of spectral ... [more ▼]

Many nearby main-sequence stars have been searched for debris using the far-infrared Herschel satellite, within the DEBRIS, DUNES and Guaranteed-Time Key Projects. We discuss here 11 stars of spectral types A-M where the stellar inclination is known and can be compared to that of the spatially resolved dust belts. The discs are found to be well aligned with the stellar equators, as in the case of the Sun's Kuiper belt, and unlike many close-in planets seen in transit surveys. The ensemble of stars here can be fitted with a star-disc tilt of ≲ 10°. These results suggest that proposed mechanisms for tilting the star or disc in fact operate rarely. A few systems also host imaged planets, whose orbits at tens of au are aligned with the debris discs, contrary to what might be expected in models where external perturbers induce tilts. [less ▲]

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See detailUnraveling the Mystery of Exozodiacal Dust
Ertel, S.; Augereau, J.-C.; Thébault, P. et al

in Booth, Mark; Matthews, Brenda; Graham, James (Eds.) Exploring the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems (2014, January 01)

Exozodiacal dust clouds are thought to be the extrasolar analogs of the Solar System's zodiacal dust. Studying these systems provides insights in the architecture of the innermost regions of planetary ... [more ▼]

Exozodiacal dust clouds are thought to be the extrasolar analogs of the Solar System's zodiacal dust. Studying these systems provides insights in the architecture of the innermost regions of planetary systems, including the Habitable Zone. Furthermore, the mere presence of the dust may result in major obstacles for direct imaging of earth-like planets. Our EXOZODI project aims to detect and study exozodiacal dust and to explain its origin. We are carrying out the first large, near-infrared interferometric survey in the northern (CHARA/FLUOR) and southern (VLTI/PIONIER) hemispheres. Preliminary results suggest a detection rate of up to 30% around A to K type stars and interesting trends with spectral type and age. We focus here on presenting the observational work carried out by our team. [less ▲]

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See detailLatest results from the EXOZODI project
Bonsor, A.; Augereau, J. C.; Absil, Olivier ULg et al

Conference (2013, September 01)

High levels of warm dust observed in the inner regions of planetary systems are known as exozodis, reflecting their similarities with the Solar System's zodiacal cloud. Whilst the population of cold ... [more ▼]

High levels of warm dust observed in the inner regions of planetary systems are known as exozodis, reflecting their similarities with the Solar System's zodiacal cloud. Whilst the population of cold, outer debris discs is well characterised observationally and understood theoretically, many mysteries remain regarding the observations of exozodiacal dust. The observed small dust grains have a short lifetime against collisions and radiative forces. Even if they were resupplied from the collisional grinding of a population of larger parent bodies, as commonly suggested to explain cold, outer debris discs, the parent bodies could not sustain the observed dust levels in steady-state for anywhere near the age of the system. Further theoretical investigations, alongside observations of the population of exozodis, are required in order better understand the origin of the exozodiacal dust. Interferometry is perfectly suited to better characterising this population, as the emission from the exozodi can be readily disentangled from the stellar emission. We present results of a statistical survey that aims to characterise the population of exozodis around nearby stars using CHARA/FLUOR and VLTI/PIONIER, alongside theoretical investigations into the manner in which the observed exozodiacal dust may be linked with the dynamical evolution of the planetary system. [less ▲]

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See detailHerschel's "Cold Debris Disks": Background Galaxies or Quiescent Rims of Planetary Systems?
Krivov, A. V.; Eiroa, C.; Löhne, T. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2013), 772

(abridged) Infrared excesses associated with debris disk host stars detected so far peak at wavelengths around ~100{\mu}m or shorter. However, six out of 31 excess sources in the Herschel OTKP DUNES have ... [more ▼]

(abridged) Infrared excesses associated with debris disk host stars detected so far peak at wavelengths around ~100{\mu}m or shorter. However, six out of 31 excess sources in the Herschel OTKP DUNES have been seen to show significant - and in some cases extended - excess emission at 160{\mu}m, which is larger than the 100{\mu}m excess. This excess emission has been suggested to stem from debris disks colder than those known previously. Using several methods, we re-consider whether some or even all of the candidates may be associated with unrelated galactic or extragalactic emission and conclude that it is highly unlikely that none of the candidates represents a true circumstellar disk. For true disks, both the dust temperatures inferred from the SEDs and the disk radii estimated from the images suggest that the dust is nearly as cold as a blackbody. This requires the grains to be larger than ~100{\mu}m, regardless of their material composition. To explain the dearth of small grains, we explore several conceivable scenarios: transport-dominated disks, disks of low dynamical excitation, and disks of unstirred primordial macroscopic grains. Our qualitative analysis and collisional simulations rule out the first two of these scenarios, but show the feasibility of the third one. We show that such disks can survive for gigayears, largely preserving the primordial size distribution. They should be composed of macroscopic solids larger than millimeters, but smaller than kilometers in size. Thus planetesimal formation, at least in the outer regions of the systems, has stopped before "cometary" or "asteroidal" sizes were reached. [less ▲]

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See detailDUst Around NEarby Stars. The survey observational results
Eiroa, C; Marshall, J; Mora, A et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2013), 555

Context. Debris discs are a consequence of the planet formation process and constitute the fingerprints of planetesimal systems. Their solar system's counterparts are the asteroid and Edgeworth-Kuiper ... [more ▼]

Context. Debris discs are a consequence of the planet formation process and constitute the fingerprints of planetesimal systems. Their solar system's counterparts are the asteroid and Edgeworth-Kuiper belts. Aims. The DUNES survey aims at detecting extra-solar analogues to the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt around solar-type stars, putting in this way the solar system into context. The survey allows us to address some questions related to the prevalence and properties of planetesimal systems. Methods. We used Herschel/PACS to observe a sample of nearby FGK stars. Data at 100 and 160 μm were obtained, complemented in some cases with observations at 70 μm, and at 250, 350 and 500 μm using SPIRE. The observing strategy was to integrate as deep as possible at 100 μm to detect the stellar photosphere. Results. Debris discs have been detected at a fractional luminosity level down to several times that of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt. The incidence rate of discs around the DUNES stars is increased from a rate of ∼ 12.1% ± 5% before Herschel to ∼ 20.2% ± 2%. A significant fraction (∼ 52%) of the discs are resolved, which represents an enormous step ahead from the previously known resolved discs. Some stars are associated with faint far-IR excesses attributed to a new class of cold discs. Although it cannot be excluded that these excesses are produced by coincidental alignment of background galaxies, statistical arguments suggest that at least some of them are true debris discs. Some discs display peculiar SEDs with spectral indexes in the 70–160 μm range steeper than the Rayleigh-Jeans one. An analysis of the debris disc parameters suggests that a decrease might exist of the mean black body radius from the F-type to the K-type stars. In addition, a weak trend is suggested for a correlation of disc sizes and an anticorrelation of disc temperatures with the stellar age. [less ▲]

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See detailHot circumstellar material resolved around β Pic with VLTI/PIONIER
Defrere, Denis ULg; Lebreton, J.; Le Bouquin, J.-B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2012), 546

Aims: We aim at resolving the circumstellar environment around β Pic in the near-infrared in order to study the inner planetary system (<200 mas, i.e., ~4 AU). Methods: Precise interferometric fringe ... [more ▼]

Aims: We aim at resolving the circumstellar environment around β Pic in the near-infrared in order to study the inner planetary system (<200 mas, i.e., ~4 AU). Methods: Precise interferometric fringe visibility measurements were obtained over seven spectral channels dispersed across the H band with the four-telescope VLTI/PIONIER interferometer. Thorough analysis of interferometric data was performed to measure the stellar angular diameter and to search for circumstellar material. Results: We detected near-infrared circumstellar emission around β Pic that accounts for 1.37% ± 0.16% of the near-infrared stellar flux and that is located within the field-of-view of PIONIER (i.e., ~200 mas in radius). The flux ratio between this excess and the photosphere emission is shown to be stable over a period of 1 year and to vary only weakly across the H band, suggesting that the source is either very hot (≳1500 K) or dominated by the scattering of the stellar flux. In addition, we derive the limb-darkened angular diameter of β Pic with an unprecedented accuracy (θLD= 0.736 ± 0.019 mas). Conclusions: The presence of a small H-band excess originating in the vicinity of β Pic is revealed for the first time thanks to the high-precision visibilities enabled by VLTI/PIONIER. This excess emission is likely due to the scattering of stellar light by circumstellar dust and/or the thermal emission from a yet unknown population of hot dust, although hot gas emitting in the continuum cannot be firmly excluded. [less ▲]

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