Friday, September 18, 2015

AU Microscopii Debris Disk has Hints of Exoplanets

Gemini Planet Imager Observations of the AU Microscopii Debris Disk: Asymmetries within One Arcsecond


Wang et al


We present Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) observations of AU Microscopii, a young M dwarf with an edge-on, dusty debris disk. Integral field spectroscopy and broadband imaging polarimetry were obtained during the commissioning of GPI. In our broadband imaging polarimetry observations, we detect the disk only in total intensity and find asymmetries in the morphology of the disk between the southeast and northwest sides. The southeast side of the disk exhibits a bump at 1″ (10 AU projected separation) that is three times more vertically extended and three times fainter in peak surface brightness than the northwest side at similar separations. This part of the disk is also vertically offset by 69±30 mas to the northeast at 1″ when compared to the established disk mid-plane and consistent with prior ALMA and Hubble Space Telescope/STIS observations. We see hints that the southeast bump might be a result of detecting a horizontal sliver feature above the main disk that could be the disk backside. Alternatively when including the morphology of the northwest side, where the disk mid-plane is offset in the opposite direction ∼50 mas between 0.″4 and 1.″2, the asymmetries suggest a warp-like feature. Using our integral field spectroscopy data to search for planets, we are 50% complete for ∼4 MJup planets at 4 AU. We detect a source, resolved only along the disk plane, that could either be a candidate planetary mass companion or a compact clump in the disk.

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