Discovery of concentric broken rings at sub-arcsec separations in the HD 141569A gas-rich, debris disk with VLT/SPHERE
Perrot et al
Transition disks correspond to a short stage between the young protoplanetary phase and older debris phase. Along this evolutionary sequence, the gas component disappears leaving room for a dust-dominated environment where already-formed planets signpost their gravitational perturbations. We endeavor to study the very inner region of the well-known and complex debris, but still gas-rich disk, around HD 141569A using the exquisite high-contrast capability of SPHERE at the VLT. Recent near-infrared (IR) images suggest a relatively depleted cavity within ~200 au, while former mid-IR data indicate the presence of dust at separations shorter than ~100 au. We obtained multi-wavelength images in the near-IR in J, H2, H3 and Ks bands with the IRDIS camera and a 0.95-1.35 micrometers spectral data cube with the IFS. Data were acquired in pupil-tracking mode, thus allowing for angular differential imaging. We discovered several new structures inside 1", of which the most prominent is a bright ring with sharp edges (semi-major axis: 0.4") featuring a strong north-south brightness asymmetry. Other faint structures are also detected from 0.4" to 1" in the form of concentric ringlets and at least one spiral arm. Finally, the VISIR data at 8.6 micrometers suggests the presence of an additional dust population closer in. Besides, we do not detect companions more massive than 1-3 mass of Jupiter. The performance of SPHERE allows us to resolve the extended dust component, which was previously detected at thermal and visible wavelengths, into very complex patterns with strong asymmetries ; the nature of these asymmetries remains to be understood. Scenarios involving shepherding by planets or dust-gas interactions will have to be tested against these observations.