NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006A-0376

Small NOAO Logo

Proposal Information for 2006A-0376


PI: Daniel Apai, Univ. of Arizona, apai@as.arizona.edu
Address: Dept. of Astronomy/Steward Obs., 933. N. Cherry Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721-0065, USA

CoI: Attila Moor, Konkoly Observatory
CoI: Ilaria Pascucci, Univ. of Arizona/Steward Observatory
CoI: Michael R. Meyer, Univ. of Arizona/Steward Observatory
CoI: Rachel Mason, NOAO Gemini Science Center

Title: Resolving Bright Debris Disks with Michelle: Dust after Exoplanetary Collisions

Abstract: New Spitzer observations of main sequence stars suggest a general decay of the infrared excess emission with a characteristic time scale of 150 Myr. The existence of a handful of disks brighter than the decay envelope is explained by large amounts of dust recently created by minor body collisions. Spatially resolved images of these rare disks are necessary to constrain the size of the disks and to break the degeneracies in the disk models. Michelle is a uniquely sensitive instrument to map circumstellar disks in the 20-micron atmospheric window. We propose to obtain mid-infrared images of four young, nearby stars, which are thought to be sites of recent collisions. Our simulated Michelle images show that we will be able to marginally resolve all four targets, and study the structure of at least two of the disks. In the past, several debris disks were found to be physically larger than expected from their spectral energy distribution. If that would be the case for our disks, the observations will enable detailed study of the disk structure, including asymmetries and gaps which may trace giant planets. The sensitivity and stable point spread function of Michelle/Gemini will allow us to obtain the most sensitive spatially resolved images of our targets, constrain the disk size and structure, and to estimate the mass of the bodies destroyed in these exo-planetary systems.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2006A-0376

noaoprop-help@noao.edu

Small NOAO Logo