Evolution from protoplanetary to debris discs: the transition disc around HD 166191
Kennedy et al
HD 166191 has been identified by several studies as hosting a rare and extremely bright warm debris disc with an additional outer cool disc component. However, an alternative interpretation is that the star hosts a disc that is currently in transition between a full gas disc and a largely gas-free debris disc. With the help of new optical to mid-infrared (IR) spectra and Herschel imaging, we argue that the latter interpretation is supported in several ways: (i) we show that HD 166191 is comoving with the ∼4-Myr-old Herbig Ae star HD 163296, suggesting that the two have the same age; (ii) the disc spectrum of HD 166191 is well matched by a standard radiative transfer model of a gaseous protoplanetary disc with an inner hole and (iii) the HD 166191 mid-IR silicate feature is more consistent with similarly primordial objects. We note some potential issues with the debris disc interpretation that should be considered for such extreme objects, whose lifetime at the current brightness is much shorter than the stellar age, or in the case of the outer component requires a mass comparable to the solid component of the solar nebula. These aspects individually and collectively argue that HD 166191 is a 4–5 Myr old star that hosts a gaseous transition disc. Though it does not argue in favour of either scenario, we find strong evidence for 3–5 μm disc variability. We place HD 166191 in context with discs at different evolutionary stages, showing that it is a potentially important object for understanding the protoplanetary to debris disc transition.