High-speed photometry of the disintegrating planetesimals at WD1145+017: evidence for rapid dynamical evolution
Gaensicke et al
We obtained high-speed photometry of the disintegrating planetesimals orbiting the white dwarf WD1145+017, spanning a period of four weeks. The light curves show a dramatic evolution of the system since the first observations obtained about seven months ago. Multiple transit events are detected in every light curve, which have varying durations(~3-12min) and depths (~10-60%). The shortest-duration transits require that the occulting cloud of debris has a few times the size of the white dwarf, longer events are often resolved into the superposition of several individual transits. The transits evolve on time scales of days, both in shape and in depth, with most of them gradually appearing and disappearing over the course of the observing campaign. Several transits can be tracked across multiple nights, all of them recur on periods of ~4.49h, indicating multiple planetary debris fragments on nearly identical orbits. Identifying the specific origin of these bodies within this planetary system, and the evolution leading to their current orbits remains a challenging problem.