Aims: We search for signs of falling evaporating bodies (FEBs, also known as exocomets) in photometric time series obtained for β Pictoris after fitting and removing its δ Scuti-type pulsation frequencies.
Methods: Using photometric data obtained by the TESS satellite we determined the pulsational properties of the exoplanet host star β Pictoris through frequency analysis. We then pre-whitened the 54 identified δ Scuti p-modes and investigated the residual photometric time series for the presence of FEBs.
Results: We identify three distinct dipping events in the light curve of β Pictoris over a 105-day period. These dips have depths from 0.5 to 2 millimagnitudes and durations of up to 2 days for the largest dip. These dips are asymmetric in nature and are consistent with a model of an evaporating comet with an extended tail crossing the disc of the star
Conclusions: We present the first broadband detections of exocomets crossing the disc of β Pictoris, complementing the predictions made 20 years earlier by Lecavelier Des Etangs et al. (1999, A&A, 343, 916). No periodic transits are seen in this time series. These observations confirm the spectroscopic detection of exocomets in calcium H and K lines that have been seen in high resolution spectroscopy.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- May 2019
- comets: general;
- planetary systems;
- stars: individual: β Pictoris;
- techniques: photometric;
- circumstellar matter;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Accepted version updated with correct references to Rappaport et al. (2018) and various typos