The presence of debris disks around ~1 Gyr old main-sequence stars suggests that an appreciable amount of dust may persist even in mature planetary systems. Here we report the detection of dust emission from 55 Cancri, a star with one, or possibly two, planetary companions detected through radial velocity measurements. Our observations at 850 and 450 μm imply a dust mass of 0.0008-0.005 Earth masses, somewhat higher than that in the Kuiper Belt of our solar system. The estimated temperature of the dust grains and a simple model fit both indicate a central disk hole of at least 10 AU in radius. Thus, the region in which the planets are detected is likely to be significantly depleted of dust. Our results suggest that far-infrared and submillimeter observations are powerful tools for probing the outer regions of extrasolar planetary systems.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- June 2000
- Stars: Circumstellar Matter;
- Stars: Planetary Systems;
- stars: individual (55 Cancri);
- 8 pages and 2 figures, to appear in the Astrophysical Journal