Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Does the Presence of Exoplanets Affect the Formation of Kuiper Belts?

Does the presence of planets affect the frequency and properties of extrasolar Kuiper Belts? Results from the Herschel DEBRIS and DUNES surveys


Moro-Martin et al


The study of the planet-debris disk connection can shed light on the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and may help predict the presence of planets around stars with certain disk characteristics. In preliminary analyses of the Herschel DEBRIS and DUNES surveys, Wyatt et al. (2012) and Marshall et al. (2014) identified a tentative correlation between debris and low-mass planets. Here we use the cleanest possible sample out these surveys to assess the presence of such a correlation, discarding stars without known ages, with ages less than 1 Gyr and with binary companions less than 100 AU, to rule out possible correlations due to effects other than planet presence. In our sample of 204 FGK stars, we do not find evidence that debris disks are more common or more dusty around stars harboring high-mass or low-mass planets compared to a control sample without identified planets, nor that debris disks are more or less common (or more or less dusty) around stars harboring multiple planets compared to single-planet systems. Diverse dynamical histories may account for the lack of correlations. The data show the correlation between the presence of high-mass planets and stellar metallicity, but no correlation between the presence of low-mass planets or debris and stellar metallicity. Comparing the observed cumulative distribution of fractional luminosity to those expected from a Gaussian distribution, we find that a distribution centered on the Solar system's value fits well the data, while one centered at 10 times this value can be rejected. This is of interest in the context of future terrestrial planet characterization because it indicates that there are good prospects for finding a large number of debris disk systems (i.e. with evidence of harboring the building blocks of planets) with exozodiacal emission low enough to be appropriate targets for an ATLAST-type mission to search for biosignatures.

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