Thursday, January 14, 2016

KIC 8462852's Circumstellar Dust Matches the Recent Cometary Breakup Scenario

Constraints on the circumstellar dust around KIC 8462852




We present millimetre (SMA) and sub-millimetre (SCUBA-2) continuum observations of the peculiar star KIC 8462852 which displayed several deep and aperiodic dips in brightness during the Kepler mission. Our observations are approximately confusion-limited at 850 μm and are the deepest millimetre and sub-millimetre photometry of the star that has yet been carried out. No significant emission is detected towards KIC 8462852. We determine upper limits for dust between a few 10−6 M⊕ and 10−3 M⊕ for regions identified as the most likely to host occluding dust clumps and a total overall dust budget of less than 7.7 M within a radius of 200 AU. Such low limits for the inner system make the catastrophic planetary disruption hypothesis unlikely. Integrating over the Kepler lightcurve we determine that at least 10−9 M of dust is required to cause the observed Q16 dip. This is consistent with the currently most favoured cometary breakup hypothesis, but nevertheless implies the complete breakup of ∼ 30 Comet 1/P Halley type objects. Finally, in the wide SCUBA-2 field-of-view we identify another candidate debris disc system that is potentially the largest yet discovered.

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