Signatures of planets in spatially unresolved debris disks

Amaya Moro-Martín, Sebastian Wolf, Renu Malhotra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Main-sequence stars are commonly surrounded by debris disks, composed of cold dust continuously replenished by a reservoir of undetected dust-producing planetesimals. In a planetary system with a belt of planetesimals (like the solar system's Kuiper Belt) and one or more interior giant planets, the trapping of dust particles in the mean motion resonances with the planets can create structure in the dust disk, as the particles accumulate at certain semimajor axes. Sufficiently massive planets may also scatter and eject dust particles out of a planetary system, creating a dust-depleted region inside the orbit of the planet. In anticipation of future observations of spatially unresolved debris disks with the Spitzer Space Telescope, we are interested in studying how the structure carved by planets affects the shape of the disk's spectral energy distribution (SED) and consequently whether the SED can be used to infer the presence of planets. We numerically calculate the equilibrium spatial density distributions and SEDs of dust disks originated by a belt of planetesimals in the presence of interior giant planets in different planetary configurations and for a representative sample of chemical compositions. The dynamical models are necessary to estimate the enhancement of particles near the mean motion resonances with the planets and to determine how many particles drift inside the planet's orbit. On the basis of the SEDs and predicted Spitzer colors we discuss what types of planetary systems can be distinguished and the main parameter degeneracies in the model SEDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1097
Number of pages19
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Mar 10 2005


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Interplanetary medium
  • Kuiper Belt
  • Methods: n-body simulations
  • Planetary systems
  • Radiative transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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