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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 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 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 detailNulling Data Reduction and On-sky Performance of the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P. M.; Mennesson, B. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2016), 824

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid ... [more ▼]

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) is a versatile instrument designed for high angular resolution and high-contrast infrared imaging (1.5-13 μm). In this paper, we focus on the mid-infrared (8-13 μm) nulling mode and present its theory of operation, data reduction, and on-sky performance as of the end of the commissioning phase in 2015 March. With an interferometric baseline of 14.4 m, the LBTI nuller is specifically tuned to resolve the habitable zone of nearby main-sequence stars, where warm exozodiacal dust emission peaks. Measuring the exozodi luminosity function of nearby main-sequence stars is a key milestone to prepare for future exo-Earth direct imaging instruments. Thanks to recent progress in wavefront control and phase stabilization, as well as in data reduction techniques, the LBTI demonstrated in 2015 February a calibrated null accuracy of 0.05% over a 3 hr long observing sequence on the bright nearby A3V star β Leo. This is equivalent to an exozodiacal disk density of 15-30 zodi for a Sun-like star located at 10 pc, depending on the adopted disk model. This result sets a new record for high-contrast mid-infrared interferometric imaging and opens a new window on the study of planetary systems. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst-light LBT Nulling Interferometric Observations: Warm Exozodiacal Dust Resolved within a Few AU of eta Crv
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P. M.; Skemer, A. J. et al

in Astrophysical Journal (2015), 799

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η ... [more ▼]

We report on the first nulling interferometric observations with the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI), resolving the N' band (9.81-12.41 μm) emission around the nearby main-sequence star η Crv (F2V, 1-2 Gyr). The measured source null depth amounts to 4.40% ± 0.35% over a field-of-view of 140 mas in radius (~2.6 AU for the distance of η Crv) and shows no significant variation over 35° of sky rotation. This relatively low null is unexpected given the total disk to star flux ratio measured by the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS; ~23% across the N' band), suggesting that a significant fraction of the dust lies within the central nulled response of the LBTI (79 mas or 1.4 AU). Modeling of the warm disk shows that it cannot resemble a scaled version of the solar zodiacal cloud unless it is almost perpendicular to the outer disk imaged by Herschel. It is more likely that the inner and outer disks are coplanar and the warm dust is located at a distance of 0.5-1.0 AU, significantly closer than previously predicted by models of the IRS spectrum (~3 AU). The predicted disk sizes can be reconciled if the warm disk is not centrosymmetric, or if the dust particles are dominated by very small grains. Both possibilities hint that a recent collision has produced much of the dust. Finally, we discuss the implications for the presence of dust for the distance where the insolation is the same as Earth's (2.3 AU). [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 detailThe LBTI hunt for observable signatures of terrestrial systems (HOSTS) survey: a key NASA science program on the road to exoplanet imaging missions
Danchi, W.; Bailey, V.; Bryden, G. et al

in Optical and Infrared Interferometry IV (2014, July 01)

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) program on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi ... [more ▼]

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) program on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi). This warm circumstellar dust, analogous to the interplanetary dust found in the vicinity of the Earth in our own system, is produced in comet breakups and asteroid collisions. Emission and/or scattered light from the exozodi will be the major source of astrophysical noise for a future space telescope aimed at direct imaging and spectroscopy of terrestrial planets (exo- Earths) around nearby stars. About 20% of nearby field stars have cold dust coming from planetesimals at large distances from the stars (Eiroa et al. 2013, A&A, 555, A11; Siercho et al. 2014, ApJ, 785, 33). Much less is known about exozodi; current detection limits for individual stars are at best ~ 500 times our solar system's level (aka. 500 zodi). LBTI-HOSTS will be the first survey capable of measuring exozodi at the 10 zodi level (3σ). Detections of warm dust will also reveal new information about planetary system architectures and evolution. We will describe the motivation for the survey and progress on target selection, not only the actual stars likely to be observed by such a mission but also those whose observation will enable sensible extrapolations for stars that will not be observed with LBTI. We briefly describe the detection of the debris disk around η Crv, which is the first scientific result from the LBTI coming from the commissioning of the instrument in December 2013, shortly after the first time the fringes were stabilized. [less ▲]

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See detailTarget Selection for the LBTI Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Planetary Systems
Roberge, A.; Weinberger, A.; Kennedy, G. et al

in Search for Life Beyond the Solar System. Exoplanets, Biosignatures & Instruments (2014, March 01)

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi). This warm ... [more ▼]

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi). This warm circumstellar dust, analogous to the interplanetary dust found in the vicinity of the Earth in our own system, is produced in comet breakups and asteroid collisions. Exozodi will be the major source of astrophysical noise for a future space telescope aimed at direct imaging and spectroscopy of habitable zone terrestrial planets (exo-Earths). About 20% of nearby field stars have cold dust coming from planetesimals at large distances from the stars (Eiroa et al. 2013). Much less is known about exozodi; current detection limits for individual stars are at best ~ 500 times our solar system's level (aka. 500 zodi). LBTI-HOSTS will be the first survey capable of measuring exozodi at the 10 zodi level (3s). Detections of warm dust will also reveal new information about planetary system architectures and evolution. We describe the target star selection by the LBTI Science Team to satisfy the goals of the HOSTS survey - to inform mission design and target selection for a future exo-Earth mission. We are interested in both 1) actual stars likely to be observed by such a mission and 2) stars whose observation will enable sensible extrapolations for stars that cannot be observed with LBTI. We integrated two approaches to generate the HOSTS target list. The mission-driven approach concentrates on F, G, and K-type stars that are the best targets for future direct observations of exo-Earths, thereby providing model-independent "ground truth" dust observations. However, not every potential target of a future exo-Earth mission can be observed with LBTI. The sensitivity-driven approach selects targets based on maximizing the exozodi sensitivity that can be achieved, without consideration of exo-Earth mission constraints. This naturally chooses more luminous stars (A and early F-type stars). In both cases, all stars are close enough to Earth such that their habitable zones are resolvable by LBTI and bright enough at N-band (10 µm) to provide excellent sensitivity. We also discuss observational and astrophysical motivations for excluding binaries of certain separations. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Planetary Systems (HOSTS)
Defrere, Denis ULg; Hinz, P.; Bryden, G. et al

Conference (2014, March)

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct imaging of Earth-like exoplanets and, hence, the search for ... [more ▼]

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct imaging of Earth-like exoplanets and, hence, the search for biosignatures (Roberge et al. 2012). However, it is also considered as a signpost for the presence of terrestrial planets that might be hidden in the dust disk (Stark and Kuchner 2008). Characterizing exozodiacal dust around nearby sequence stars is therefore a crucial step toward one of the main goals of modern astronomy: finding extraterrestrial life. After briefly reviewing the latest results in this field, we present the exozodiacal dust survey on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI). The survey is called HOSTS and is specifically designed to determine the prevalence and brightness of exozodiacal dust disks with the sensitivity required to prepare for future New Worlds Missions that will image Earth-like exoplanets. To achieve this objective, the LBTI science team has carefully established a balanced list of 50 nearby main-sequence stars that are likely candidates of these missions and/or can be observed with the best instrument performance (see companion abstract by Roberge et al.). Exozodiacal dust disk candidates detected by the Keck Interferometer Nuller will also be observed. The first results of the survey will be presented. To precisely detect exozodiacal dust, the LBTI combines the two 8-m primary mirrors of the LBT using N-band nulling interferometry. Interferometric combination provides the required angular resolution (70-90 mas) to resolve the habitable zone of nearby main sequence stars while nulling is used to subtract the stellar light and reach the required contrast of a few 10-4. A Kband fringe tracker ensures the stability of the null. The current performance of the instrument and the first nulling measurements will be presented. [less ▲]

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See detailTarget Selection for the LBTI Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial Planetary Systems
Weinberger, Alycia J.; Roberge, A.; Kennedy, G. et al

in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #223 (2014, January 01)

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi). About 20 ... [more ▼]

The Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI) will survey nearby stars for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi). About 20% of field stars have cold debris disks created by the collisions and evaporation of planetesimals. Much less is known about warm circumstellar dust, such as that found in the vicinity of the Earth in our own system. This dust is generated in asteroidal collisions and cometary breakups, and current detection limits are at best ~500 times our system's level, i.e. 500 zodi. LBTI-HOSTS will be the first survey capable of measuring exozodi at the 10 zodi level (3σ). Exozodi of this brightness would be the major source of astrophysical noise for a future space telescope aimed at direct imaging and spectroscopy of habitable zone terrestrial planets. Detections of warm dust will also reveal new information about planetary system architectures and evolution. We describe the target star selection by the LBTI Science Team to satisfy the goals of the HOSTS survey -- to fully inform target selection for a future exoEarth mission. We are interested in actual stars likely to be observed by a mission and stars whose observation will enable sensible extrapolations to those stars that cannot be observed. We integrated two approaches to generate the HOSTS target list. The mission-driven approach concentrates on F, G, and K-type stars that are the best targets for future direct observations of exoEarths, thereby providing model-independent “ground truth” dust observations. However, not every potential target of a future exoEarth mission can be observed with LBTI. The sensitivity-driven approach selects targets based only on what exozodi sensitivity could be achieved, without consideration of exoEarth mission constraints. This naturally selects more luminous stars (A and early F-type stars). In both cases, all stars are close enough to Earth such that their habitable zones are resolvable by LBTI and bright enough at N-band (10 μm) to provide excellent sensitivity. We also discuss observational and astrophysical motivations for excluding binaries of certain separations. [less ▲]

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See detailExozodi disk models for the HOSTS survey on the LBTI
Wyatt, Mark; Kennedy, G.; Skemer, A. et al

in American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #223 (2014, January 01)

This poster describes a simple model for exozodiacal emission that was developed to interpret observations of the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) project on the ... [more ▼]

This poster describes a simple model for exozodiacal emission that was developed to interpret observations of the Hunt for Observable Signatures of Terrestrial planetary Systems (HOSTS) project on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer (LBTI). HOSTS is a NASA-funded key science project using mid-infrared nulling interferometry at the LBTI to seach for faint exozodiacal dust (exozodi) in the habitable zones of nearby stars. The aim was to make a model that includes the fewest possible assumptions, so that it is easy to characterize how choices of model parameters affect what can be inferred from the observations. However the model is also sufficiently complex that it can be compared in a physically meaningful way with the level of dust in the Solar System, and can also be readily used to assess the impact of a detection (or of a non-detection) on the ability of a mission to detect Earth-like planets. Here we describe the model, and apply it to the sample of stars being searched by HOSTS to determine the zodi level (i.e., the number of Solar System zodiacal clouds) that would be needed for a detection for each star in the survey. Particular emphasis is given to our definition of a zodi, and what that means for stars of different luminosity, and a comparison is given between different zodi definitions justifying our final choice. The achievable exozodi levels range from 1-20 zodi for different stars in the prime sample for a 0.01% null depth, with a median level of 2.5 zodi. [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 detailHerschel discovery of a new class of cold, faint debris discs
Eiroa, C.; Marshall, J. P.; Mora, A. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 536

We present Herschel PACS 100 and 160 μm observations of the solar-type stars α Men, HD 88230 and HD 210277, which form part of the FGK stars sample of the Herschel open time key programme (OTKP) DUNES ... [more ▼]

We present Herschel PACS 100 and 160 μm observations of the solar-type stars α Men, HD 88230 and HD 210277, which form part of the FGK stars sample of the Herschel open time key programme (OTKP) DUNES (DUst around NEarby Stars). Our observations show small infrared excesses at 160 μm for all three stars. HD 210277 also shows a small excess at 100 μm, while the 100 μm fluxes of α Men and HD 88230 agree with the stellar photospheric predictions. We attribute these infrared excesses to a new class of cold, faint debris discs. Both α Men and HD 88230 are spatially resolved in the PACS 160 μm images, while HD 210277 is point-like at that wavelength. The projected linear sizes of the extended emission lie in the range from ~115 to ≤ 250 AU. The estimated black body temperatures from the 100 and 160 μm fluxes are ≲22 K, and the fractional luminosity of the cold dust is L[SUB]dust[/SUB]/L[SUB] ⋆ [/SUB] ~ 10[SUP]-6[/SUP], close to the luminosity of the solar-system's Kuiper belt. These debris discs are the coldest and faintest discs discovered so far around mature stars, so they cannot be explained easily invoking "classical" debris disc models. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA. [less ▲]

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See detailA Herschel resolved far-infrared dust ring around HD 207129
Marshall, J. P.; Löhne, T.; Montesinos, B. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2011), 529

Context. Dusty debris discs around main sequence stars are thought to be the result of continuous collisional grinding of planetesimals in the system. The majority of these systems are unresolved and ... [more ▼]

Context. Dusty debris discs around main sequence stars are thought to be the result of continuous collisional grinding of planetesimals in the system. The majority of these systems are unresolved and analysis of the dust properties is limited by the lack of information regarding the dust location. <BR /> Aims: The Herschel DUNES key program is observing 133 nearby, Sun-like stars (<20 pc, FGK spectral type) in a volume limited survey to constrain the absolute incidence of cold dust around these stars by detection of far infrared excess emission at flux levels comparable to the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt (EKB). <BR /> Methods: We have observed the Sun-like star HD 207129 with Herschel PACS and SPIRE. In all three PACS bands we resolve a ring-like structure consistent with scattered light observations. Using α Boötis as a reference point spread function (PSF), we deconvolved the images, clearly resolving the inner gap in the disc at both 70 and 100 μm. <BR /> Results: We have resolved the dust-producing planetesimal belt of a debris disc at 100 μm for the first time. We measure the radial profile and fractional luminosity of the disc, and compare the values to those of discs around stars of similar age and/or spectral type, placing this disc in context of other resolved discs observed by Herschel/DUNES. Herschel is an ESA space observatory with science instruments provided by European-led Principal Investigator consortia and with important participation from NASA. [less ▲]

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See detailDo we Need to Solve the Exozodi Question? If Yes, How to Best Solve It?
Absil, Olivier ULg; Eiroa, C.; Augereau, J. et al

in Coudé du Foresto, Vincent; Gelino, Dawn; Ribas, Ignasi (Eds.) Pathways Towards Habitable Planets (2010, October 01)

When 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 ... [more ▼]

When 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 faint Earth-like planets (exoEarths, for short). This paper summarizes the oral contributions and discussions that took place during the Satellite Meeting on exozodiacal dust disks, in an attempt to address the following two questions: Do we need to solve the exozodi question? If yes, how to best solve it? [less ▲]

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See detailResolving the cold debris disc around a planet-hosting star. PACS photometric imaging observations of q1 Eridani (HD 10647, HR 506)
Liseau, R.; Eiroa, C.; Fedele, D. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010), 518

Context. About two dozen exo-solar debris systems have been spatially resolved. These debris discs commonly display a variety of structural features such as clumps, rings, belts, excentric distributions ... [more ▼]

Context. About two dozen exo-solar debris systems have been spatially resolved. These debris discs commonly display a variety of structural features such as clumps, rings, belts, excentric distributions and spiral patterns. In most cases, these features are believed to be formed, shaped and maintained by the dynamical influence of planets orbiting the host stars. In very few cases has the presence of the dynamically important planet(s) been inferred from direct observation. Aims. The solar-type star q1 Eri is known to be surrounded by debris, extended on scales of 30”. The star is also known to host at least one planet, albeit on an orbit far too small to make it responsible for structures at distances of tens to hundreds of AU. The aim of the present investigation is twofold: to determine the optical and material properties of the debris and to infer the spatial distribution of the dust, which may hint at the presence of additional planets. Methods. The Photodetector Array Camera and Spectrometer (PACS) aboard the Herschel Space Observatory allows imaging observations in the far infrared at unprecedented resolution, i.e. at better than 6” to 12” over the wavelength range of 60 μm to 210 μm. Together with the results from ground-based observations, these spatially resolved data can be modelled to determine the nature of the debris and its evolution more reliably than what would be possible from unresolved data alone. Results. For the first time has the q1 Eri disc been resolved at far infrared wavelengths. The PACS observations at 70 μm, 100 μm and 160 μm reveal an oval image showing a disc-like structure in all bands, the size of which increases with wavelength. Assuming a circular shape yields the inclination of its equatorial plane with respect to that of the sky, i > 53°. The results of image de-convolution indicate that i likely is larger than 63°, where 90° corresponds to an edge-on disc. Conclusions. The observed emission is thermal and optically thin. The resolved data are consistent with debris at temperatures below 30 K at radii larger than 120 AU. From image de-convolution, we find that q1 Eri is surrounded by an about 40 AU wide ring at the radial distance of ~85 AU. This is the first real Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt analogue ever observed. [less ▲]

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See detailCold DUst around NEarby Stars (DUNES). First results. A resolved exo-Kuiper belt around the solar-like star ζ2 Ret
Eiroa, C.; Fedele, D.; Maldonado, J. et al

in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010), 518

We present the first far-IR observations of the solar-type stars δ Pav, HR 8501, 51 Peg and ζ2 Ret, taken within the context of the DUNES Herschel open time key programme (OTKP). This project uses the ... [more ▼]

We present the first far-IR observations of the solar-type stars δ Pav, HR 8501, 51 Peg and ζ2 Ret, taken within the context of the DUNES Herschel open time key programme (OTKP). This project uses the PACS and SPIRE instruments with the objective of studying infrared excesses due to exo-Kuiper belts around nearby solar-type stars. The observed 100 μm fluxes from δ Pav, HR 8501, and 51 Peg agree with the predicted photospheric fluxes, excluding debris disks brighter than Ldust/ ~ 5 × 10-7 (1σ level) around those stars. A flattened, disk-like structure with a semi-major axis of ~100 AU in size is detected around ζ2 Ret. The resolved structure suggests the presence of an eccentric dust ring, which we interpret as an exo-Kuiper belt with Ldust/ ≈ 10-5. [less ▲]

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See detailDirect imaging of Earth-like planets: why we care about exozodis
Absil, Olivier ULg; Defrere, Denis ULg; Roberge, A. et al

in Danchi, W. C.; Delplancke, F.; Rajagopal, J. K. (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry II (2010, July)

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct detection of Earth-like exoplanets (exoEarths) with future space ... [more ▼]

The presence of large amounts of exozodiacal dust around nearby main sequence stars is considered as a potential threat for the direct detection of Earth-like exoplanets (exoEarths) with future space-based coronagraphic and interferometric missions. In this paper, we estimate the amount of exozodiacal light that can be tolerated around various stellar types without jeopardizing the detection of exoEarths with a space-based visible coronagraph or a free-flying mid-infrared interferometer. We also address the possible effects of resonant structures in exozodiacal disks. We then review the sensitivity of current ground-based interferometric instruments to exozodiacal disks, based on classical visibility measurements and on the nulling technique. We show that the current instrumental performances are not sufficient to help prepare future exoEarth imaging missions, and discuss how new groundor space-based instruments could improve the current sensitivity to exozodiacal disks down to a suitable level. [less ▲]

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See detailExoplanet Characterization and the Search for Life
Kasting, James; Traub, W.; Roberge, A. et al

E-print/Working paper (2009)

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces ... [more ▼]

Over 300 extrasolar planets (exoplanets) have been detected orbiting nearby stars. We now hope to conduct a census of all planets around nearby stars and to characterize their atmospheres and surfaces with spectroscopy. Rocky planets within their star's habitable zones have the highest priority, as these have the potential to harbor life. Our science goal is to find and characterize all nearby exoplanets; this requires that we measure the mass, orbit, and spectroscopic signature of each one at visible and infrared wavelengths. The techniques for doing this are at hand today. Within the decade we could answer long-standing questions about the evolution and nature of other planetary systems, and we could search for clues as to whether life exists elsewhere in our galactic neighborhood. [less ▲]

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