Institute of Astronomy

Extraterrestrial Collisions in the Era of Terrestrial Planet Formation

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Huan Meng30 July 2014Across HR 2014 Talks


We present a detailed analysis of the first real-time detection of a planetary collision outside the solar system, observed with Spitzer at 3.6 and 4.5 microns around a 38-Myr-old solar analog star. The very bright, warm debris disk was originally only moderately variable. The collision is indicated by a substantial brightening, after which the output showed significant quasi-periodic variations on monthly timescales, on top of a decay over a year. This event may correspond to a secondary collision triggered by an original giant impact at least a decade ago and leading to the production and loss of tiny dust particles around the blowout size due to the stellar radiation. An overview of the infrared monitoring of similar systems, most of which are in the age range of terrestrial planet formation, suggests that such variations may be common in extreme debris disks around solar-like stars.


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