Thursday, June 13, 2013

1306.2855 (A. V. Krivov et al.)

Herschel's "Cold Debris Disks": Background Galaxies or Quiescent Rims of Planetary Systems?    [PDF]

A. V. Krivov, C. Eiroa, T. Löhne, J. P. Marshall, B. Montesinos, C. del Burgo, O. Absil, D. Ardila, J. -C. Augereau, A. Bayo, G. Bryden, W. Danchi, S. Ertel, J. Lebreton, R. Liseau, A. Mora, A. J. Mustill, H. Mutschke, R. Neuhäuser, G. L. Pilbratt, A. Roberge, T. O. B. Schmidt, K. R. Stapelfeldt, Ph. Thébault, Ch. Vitense, G. J. White, S. Wolf
(abridged) Infrared excesses associated with debris disk host stars detected so far peak at wavelengths around ~100{\mu}m or shorter. However, six out of 31 excess sources in the Herschel OTKP DUNES have been seen to show significant - and in some cases extended - excess emission at 160{\mu}m, which is larger than the 100{\mu}m excess. This excess emission has been suggested to stem from debris disks colder than those known previously. Using several methods, we re-consider whether some or even all of the candidates may be associated with unrelated galactic or extragalactic emission and conclude that it is highly unlikely that none of the candidates represents a true circumstellar disk. For true disks, both the dust temperatures inferred from the SEDs and the disk radii estimated from the images suggest that the dust is nearly as cold as a blackbody. This requires the grains to be larger than ~100{\mu}m, regardless of their material composition. To explain the dearth of small grains, we explore several conceivable scenarios: transport-dominated disks, disks of low dynamical excitation, and disks of unstirred primordial macroscopic grains. Our qualitative analysis and collisional simulations rule out the first two of these scenarios, but show the feasibility of the third one. We show that such disks can survive for gigayears, largely preserving the primordial size distribution. They should be composed of macroscopic solids larger than millimeters, but smaller than kilometers in size. Thus planetesimal formation, at least in the outer regions of the systems, has stopped before "cometary" or "asteroidal" sizes were reached.
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