AAS Meeting, Seattle WA, Jan 2011: Herschel DUNES Observations of Cold Debris Disks Around Nearby Stars

Presented at the 217th American Astronomical Society Meeting, Seattle WA, USA

The DUNES (DUst discs around NEarby Stars) Open Time Key Programme for the Herschel Space Observatory is a sensitivity-limited photometric survey for faint, cold debris disks around nearby FGK stars. It takes advantage of the PACS and SPIRE instruments to detect and characterize cold disks as faint as L_dust/L_star ~ 10^{-7} - 10^{-6}, at dust temperatures around 30 - 40 K. Such systems are extrasolar analogues of Solar System's Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt (EKB). DUNES will observe a statistically significant, volume-limited (d < 20 pc) sample, constrained only by background confusion. Stars at larger distances (d < 25 pc) with previously known exoplanets and/or Spitzer-detected faint debris disks are also included.

More than one third of the DUNES sample has been observed to date. Our goal of detecting very faint, cold dust disks has been achieved; many disks are also spatially resolved. The unresolved disks show a variety of spectral energy distributions, some suggesting the presence of cold EKB-like dust rings. A number of previously unknown debris disks have been detected, including the coldest disks yet found. Preliminary results relating disk properties to the host star parameters will be shown.

dunes_poster_roberge.pdf11.08 MB