LESIA - Observatoire de Paris

Observations of fast-moving structures in the debris disk of AU Microscopii : 3 years of follow-up with SPHERE

mardi 13 mars 2018, par Anthony Boccaletti (LESIA)

Jeudi 15 mars 2018 à 16h00 , Lieu : Salle de conférence du bâtiment 17

The instrument SPHERE was installed at the VLT in 2014 and provides a significant gain in terms of contrast with respect to the previous generation of instruments. As a result, we now have access to very high contrast in the close environment of bright stars in particular the young systems in order to search for giant planets and circumstellar disks. During the commissioning in Aug 2014, SPHERE has revealed several structures (several AU in size) in the form of arches or undulations in the midplane of the debris disk around the star AU Microscopii. This disk is seen edge on and the system is conveniently close ( 10 pc) and young as well ( 20 Myr). The comparison of these SPHERE observations with the ones from STIS/HST 4 years before, not only allowed us to re-identify the structures in older data but most importantly led us to conclude that these structures were moving outwards in the disk, some with very large projected speed (4-10 km/s) hence possibly escaping the system. Several assumptions were considered to explain this behaviour, one of the them involves a body in Keplerian motion releasing some dust under the influence of the star’s activity. Since then, the object is regularly observed with SPHERE as part of the GTO and during a monitoring program. After a short introduction on the instrument and its modes as well as the achieved performance, I’ll remind the initial results from 2014 which led to the discovery of these fast-moving structures. Then, I’ll present the recent observations obtained from the last 3 years which unambiguously confirm the motion of the structures. The hypothesis of a parent body emitting an outflow of dust will be discussed in the light of these observations.

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