Hot exozodiacal dust resolved around Vega with IOTA/IONIC
Context. Although debris discs have been detected around a significant number of main-sequence stars, only a few of them are known to harbour hot dust in their inner part where terrestrial planets may have formed. Thanks to infrared interferometric observations, it is possible to obtain a direct measurement of these regions, which are of prime importance for preparing future exo-Earth characterisation missions.
Aims: We resolve the exozodiacal dust disc around Vega with the help of infrared stellar interferometry and estimate the integrated H-band flux originating from the first few AUs of the debris disc.
Methods: Precise H-band interferometric measurements were obtained on Vega with the 3-telescope IOTA/IONIC interferometer (Mount Hopkins, Arizona). Thorough modelling of both interferometric data (squared visibility and closure phase) and spectral energy distribution was performed to constrain the nature of the near-infrared excess emission.
Results: Resolved circumstellar emission within ~6 AU from Vega is identified at the 3-σ level. The most straightforward scenario consists in a compact dust disc producing a thermal emission that is largely dominated by small grains located between 0.1 and 0.3 AU from Vega and accounting for 1.23 ± 0.45% of the near-infrared stellar flux for our best-fit model. This flux ratio is shown to vary slightly with the geometry of the model used to fit our interferometric data (variations within ± 0.19%).
Conclusions: The presence of hot exozodiacal dust in the vicinity of Vega, initially revealed by K-band CHARA/FLUOR observations, is confirmed by our H-band IOTA/IONIC measurements. Whereas the origin of the dust is still uncertain, its presence and the possible connection with the outer disc suggest that the Vega system is currently undergoing major dynamical perturbations.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- October 2011
- instrumentation: high angular resolution;
- techniques: interferometric;
- circumstellar matter;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 10 pages, 9 figures, accepted for publication in A&