Hot Exozodiacal Dust Disks, their Detection and Variability, as Measured with Long-Baseline Optical Interferometry.
Near-infrared long-baseline optical interferometry has provided the first unambiguous resolved detections of hot dust around main sequence stars (Absil et al. 2006). This showed that an unexpectedly dense population of (sub)micrometer dust grains close exists to their sublimation temperature of approximately 1400K. A later survey (Absil et al. 2013) revealed that these "hot exozodiacal disks" are relatively common around spectral type A-K stars. Current models of circumstellar debris disks suggest that in the inner region, within 1 AU, of the disk the timescale for complete removal of submicron dust is on the order of a few years (Wyatt 2008). The presence of dust close to the star is surprising because most cold debris belts detected are collisionally dominated. Mutual collisions grind the dust down to the size where radiation pressure pushes the dust out before Poynting-Robertson drag has a chance to pull the dust inward. Competing models exist to explain the persistence of this dust; some of which suggest that dust production is a punctuated and chaotic process fueled by asteroid collisions and comet infall that would show variability on timescales of a few years.High precision long-baseline interferometry observations in the K-band with the FLUOR (Fiber Linked Unit for Optical Recombination) beam combiner at the CHARA (Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy) Array provided the data for these exozodiacal dust detections. This original instrument has undergone upgrades as part of JouFLU (Jouvence of FLUOR) project. The new instrument has been used to expand the original survey and to re-observe stars from the previous exozodiacal disk survey to search for predicted variations in the detected disks. We have found evidence that for some systems the amount of circumstellar flux from these previously detected exozodiacal disks, or exozodis, has varied greatly. The flux from some exozodis has increased, others decreased, and for a few the amount has remained constant. These results are intriguing and will undoubtedly be useful for future modeling of this phenomenon. Furthermore, long-term monitoring is suggested for some of these objects to confirm detections and determine the rate of variation.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #227
- Pub Date:
- January 2016