Infrared Variability of Two Dusty White Dwarfs

Siyi Xu, Kate Y.L. Su, L. K. Rogers, Amy Bonsor, Johan Olofsson, Dimitri Veras, Rik Van Lieshout, Patrick Dufour, Elizabeth M. Green, Everett Schlawin, Jay Farihi, Thomas G. Wilson, David J. Wilson, Boris T. Gansicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The most heavily polluted white dwarfs often show excess infrared radiation from circumstellar dust disks, which are modeled as a result of tidal disruption of extrasolar minor planets. Interaction of dust, gas, and disintegrating objects can all contribute to the dynamical evolution of these dust disks. Here, we report two infrared variable dusty white dwarfs, SDSS J1228+1040 and G29-38. For SDSS J1228+1040, compared to the first measurements in 2007, the IRAC [3.6] and [4.5] fluxes decreased by 20% before 2014 to a level also seen in the recent 2018 observations. For G29-38, the infrared flux of the 10 μm silicate emission feature became 10% stronger between 2004 and 2007, We explore several scenarios that could account for these changes, including tidal disruption events, perturbation from a companion, and runaway accretion. No satisfactory causes are found for the flux drop in SDSS J1228+1040 due to the limited time coverage. Continuous tidal disruption of small planetesimals could increase the mass of small grains and concurrently change the strength of the 10 μm feature of G29-38. Dust disks around white dwarfs are actively evolving and we speculate that there could be different mechanisms responsible for the temporal changes of these disks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2018


  • circumstellar matter
  • minor planets, asteroids: general
  • stars: individual (G29-38, SDSS J122859.93 +104032.9)
  • white dwarfs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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