Saturday, October 11, 2014

Warm Debris Disks Around Transiting-Exoplanet Host Stars

Herschel/PACS photometry of transiting-planet host stars with candidate warm debris disks


Merin et al


Dust in debris disks is produced by colliding or evaporating planetesimals, remnants of the planet formation process. Warm dust disks, known by their emission at less than 24 micron, are rare (4% of FGK main sequence stars) and especially interesting because they trace material in the region likely to host terrestrial planets, where the dust has a very short dynamical lifetime. Statistical analyses of the source counts of excesses as found with the mid-IR Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) suggest that warm-dust candidates found for the Kepler transiting-planet host-star candidates can be explained by extragalactic or galactic background emission aligned by chance with the target stars. These statistical analyses do not exclude the possibility that a given WISE excess could be due to a transient dust population associated with the target. Here we report Herschel/PACS 100 and 160 micron follow-up observations of a sample of Kepler and non-Kepler transiting-planet candidates' host stars, with candidate WISE warm debris disks, aimed at detecting a possible cold debris disk in any of them. No clear detections were found in any one of the objects at either wavelength. Our upper limits confirm that most objects in the sample do not have a massive debris disk like that in beta Pic. We also show that the planet-hosting star WASP-33 does not have a debris disk comparable to the one around eta Crv. Although the data cannot be used to rule out rare warm disks around the Kepler planet-hosting candidates, the lack of detections and the characteristics of neighboring emission found at far-IR wavelengths support an earlier result suggesting that most of the WISE-selected IR excesses around Kepler candidate host stars are likely due to either chance alignment with background IR-bright galaxies and/or to interstellar emission.

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