Circumstellar Debris Disks: Diagnosing the Unseen Perturber
Nesvold et al
The first indication of the presence of a circumstellar debris disk is usually the detection of excess infrared emission from the population of small dust grains orbiting the star. This dust is short-lived, requiring continual replenishment, and indicating that the disk must be excited by an unseen perturber. Previous theoretical studies have demonstrated that an eccentric planet orbiting interior to the disk will stir the larger bodies in the belt and produce dust via interparticle collisions. However, motivated by recent observations, we explore another possible mechanism for heating a debris disk: a stellar-mass perturber orbiting exterior to and inclined to the disk and exciting the disk particles' eccentricities and inclinations via the Kozai-Lidov mechanism. We explore the consequences of an exterior perturber on the evolution of a debris disk using secular analysis and collisional N-body simulations. We demonstrate that a Kozai-Lidov excited disk can generate a dust disk via collisions and we compare the results of the Kozai-Lidov excited disk with a simulated disk perturbed by an interior eccentric planet. Finally, we propose two observational tests of a dust disk that can distinguish whether the dust was produced by an exterior brown dwarf or stellar companion or an interior eccentric planet.