Complex organic materials in the circumstellar disk of HR 4796A

John H. Debes, Alycia J. Weinberger, Glenn Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


We combine HST NICMOS imaging photometry of the HR 4796A disk at previously unobserved wavelengths between 1.71-2.22 μm with reprocessed archival observations to produce a measure of the dust's scattering efficiency as a function of wavelength. The spectrum of the dust, synthesized from the seven photometric measures, is characterized by a steep red slope increasing from 0.5 to 1.6 μm followed by a flattening of the spectrum at wavelengths 11.6 μm. We fit the spectrum with a model population of dust grains made of tholins, materials composed of complex organic materials seen throughout the outer parts of our solar system. The presence of organic material around a star that may be in the later stages of giant planet formation implies that the basic building blocks for life may be common in planetary systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L191-L194
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Stars: individual (HR 4796A)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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