Debris disks in main-sequence binary systems

D. E. Trilling, J. A. Stansberry, K. R. Stapelfeldt, G. H. Rieke, K. Y.L. Su, R. O. Gray, C. J. Corbally, G. Bryden, C. H. Chen, A. Boden, C. A. Beichman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


We observed 69 A3-F8 main-sequence binary star systems using the Muitiband imaging Photometer for spitzer on board the Spitzer Space Telescope. We find emission significantly in excess of predicted photospheric flux levels for 9-3+4% and 40-6-7 % of these systems at 24 and 70 μm, respectively. Twenty-two systems total have excess emission, including four systems that show excess emission at both wavelengths. A very large fraction (nearly 60%) of observed binary systems with small (<3 AU) separations have excess thermal emission. We interpret the observed infrared excesses as thermal emission from dust produced by collisions in planetesimal belts. The incidence of debris disks around main-sequence A3-F8 binaries is marginally higher than that for single old AFGK stars. Whatever combination of nature (birth conditions of binary systems) and nurture (interactions between the two stars) drives the evolution of debris disks in binary systems, it is clear that planetesimal formation is not inhibited to any great degree. We model these dust disks through fitting the spectral energy distributions and derive typical dust temperatures in the range 100-200 K and typical fractional luminosities around 10-5, with both parameters similar to other Spzitzer-discovered debris disks. Our calculated dust temperatures suggest that about half the excesses we observe are derived from circumbinary planetesimal belts and around one-third of the excesses clearly suggest circumstellar material. Three systems with excesses have dust in dynamically unstable regions, and we discuss possible scenarios for the origin of this short-lived dust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1311
Number of pages23
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • Binaries: general
  • Infrared: stars
  • Planetary systems: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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