Institute of Astronomy

Debris Disk Observations

Dust in debris disks is heated by the star and can be observed by its thermal emission in the mid-IR to sub-mm; this thermal emission is detected either as an excess above the star's photospheric emission or as emission that is extended from the otherwise point-like star. Our observational work currently focusses on an unbiased survey of a sample that covers the nearest ~500 stars (or rather the nearest ~100 of each spectral type A,F,G,K,M). The DEBRIS survey of this sample is currently underway, and uses the Herschel satellite to search for far-IR emission from dust. The figure below shows the first resolved images of the debris disk around Beta Leo, the fifth closest A star to the sun. The SUNS survey of this sample starts mid-2011 using the SCUBA2 instrument at the JCMT. Our previous results from the predecessor SCUBA instrument show that we can expect several disks to be imaged with this survey. We also perform follow-up observations to characterise known debris disks. For example, the mid-IR image below taken with TReCS at Gemini show the first image of the debris disk of HD191089, showing its dust lies between 28 and 70 AU, with very little emission from inside 28AU, indicating the presence of an inner hole.

Page last updated: 24 February 2011 at 15:55