LBT Reveals Large Dust Particles and a High Mass-loss Rate for K2-22 b

Everett Schlawin, Kate Y.L. Su, Terry Herter, Andrew Ridden-Harper, Dániel Apai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The disintegrating planet candidate K2-22 b shows periodic and stochastic transits best explained by an escaping debris cloud. However, the mechanism that creates the debris cloud is unknown. The grain size of the debris as well as its sublimation rate can be helpful in understanding the environment that disintegrates the planet. Here, we present simultaneous photometry with the g band at 0.48 μm and K S band at 2.1 μm using the Large Binocular Telescope. During an event with very low dust activity, we put a new upper limit on the size of the planet of 0.71 R ⊕ or 4500 km. We also detected a medium depth transit that can be used to constrain the dust particle sizes. We find that the median particle size must be larger than about 0.5-1.0 μm, depending on the composition of the debris. This leads to a high mass-loss rate of about 3 × 108 kg s-1, which is consistent with hydrodynamic escape models. If they are produced by some alternate mechanism such as explosive volcanism, it would require extraordinary geological activity. Combining our upper limits on the planet size with the high mass-loss rate, we find a lifetime of the planet of less than 370 Myr. This drops to just 21 Myr when adopting the 0.02 M ⊕ mass predicted from hydrodynamical models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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