Evidence for Gas from a Disintegrating Extrasolar Asteroid
Xu et al
We report high-resolution spectroscopic observations of WD 1145+017 -- a white dwarf that recently has been found to be transitted by multiple asteroid-sized objects within its tidal radius. We have discovered numerous circumstellar absorption lines with linewidths of ∼ 300 km s−1 from Mg, Ca, Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe and Ni, possibly from several gas streams produced by collisions among the actively disintegrating objects. The atmosphere of WD 1145+017 is polluted with 11 heavy elements, including O, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti, V:, Cr, Mn, Fe and Ni. Evidently, we are witnessing the active disintegration and subsequent accretion of an extrasolar asteroid.