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Constraining the Role of Collisions in the beta Pictoris Debris Disk

Published onJun 01, 2020
Constraining the Role of Collisions in the beta Pictoris Debris Disk

Beta Pictoris is an edge-on debris disk system. In this gas-poor debris disk, a substantial CO gas clump has been recently found in the southwest side of the disk (Dent et al. 2014; Matra et al. 2017; Cataldi et al. 2018). Two major hypotheses have been put forward to explain the existence of the gas clump. One hypothesis argues that a giant collision between a proto-planet and a planetesimal could have produced the observed gas and dust. The alternative hypothesis argues that planetesimals are trapped in the mean motion resonances at the observed location, and are colliding with each other to produce the observed gas and dust. By studying the spatially-resolved, mid-infrared spectra of β Pictoris taken by the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS), we can constrain the properties of the dust in the gas clump and at another position on the other side of the disk to constrain the origin of the dust and gas. Our preliminary analyses indicate that the spectrum at the location of the CO clump is different from the other side of the disk. We find that the continuum flux at the gas clump is higher than that of the opposite side in the disk. The enhanced flux-level at the site of the gas clump may indicate a larger amount of dust. Moreover, we find tentative evidence that the two spectra do not have the same spectral features in the 20 to 25 micron range. Differences in the peak position and the shape of the 20 micron features may indicate that the grain composition, crystallinity, and size of the grains may also be different within the CO clump.

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