Thursday, June 6, 2013

1306.0956 (J. Lebreton et al.)

An interferometric study of the Fomalhaut inner debris disk. III. Detailed models of the exozodiacal disk and its origin    [PDF]

J. Lebreton, R. van Lieshout, J. -C. Augereau, O. Absil, B. Mennesson, M. Kama, C. Dominik, A. Bonsor, J. Vandeportal, H. Beust, D. Defrère, S. Ertel, V. Faramaz, P. Hinz, Q. Kral, A. -M. Lagrange, W. Liu, P. Thébault
[Abridged] Debris disks are extrasolar analogs to the solar system planetesimal belts. The star Fomalhaut harbors a cold debris belt at 140 AU as well as evidence of a warm dust component, which is suspected of being a bright analog to the solar system's zodiacal dust. Interferometric observations obtained with the VLTI and the KIN have identified near- and mid-infrared excesses attributed to hot and warm exozodiacal dust in the inner few AU of the star. We performed parametric modeling of the exozodiacal disk using the GRaTeR radiative transfer code to reproduce the interferometric data, complemented by mid- to far-infrared measurements. A detailed treatment of sublimation temperatures was introduced to explore the hot population at the sublimation rim. We then used an analytical approach to successively testing several source mechanisms. A good fit to the data is found by two distinct dust populations: (1) very small, hence unbound, hot dust grains confined in a narrow region at the sublimation rim of carbonaceous material; (2) bound grains at 2 AU that are protected from sublimation and have a higher mass despite their fainter flux level. We propose that the hot dust is produced by the release of small carbon grains following the disruption of aggregates that originate from the warm component. A mechanism, such as gas braking, is required to further confine the small grains for a long enough time. In situ dust production could hardly be ensured for the age of the star, so the observed amount of dust must be triggered by intense dynamical activity. Fomalhaut may be representative of exozodis that are currently being surveyed worldwide. We propose a framework for reconciling the hot exozodi phenomenon with theoretical constraints: the hot component of Fomalhaut is likely the tip of the iceberg since it could originate from a warm counterpart residing near the ice line.
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