The correlation between metallicity and debris disk mass

András Gáspár, George H. Rieke, Nicholas Ballering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We find that the initial dust masses in planetary debris disks are correlated with the metallicities of their central stars. We compiled a large sample of systems, including Spitzer, the Herschel DUNES and DEBRIS surveys, and WISE debris disk candidates. We also merged 33 metallicity catalogs to provide homogeneous [Fe/H] and σ[Fe/H] values. We analyzed this merged sample, including 222 detected disks (74 warm and 148 cold) around a total of 187 systems (some with multiple components) and 440 disks with only upper limits (125 warm and 315 cold) around a total of 360 systems. The disk dust masses at a common early evolutionary point in time were determined using our numerical disk evolutionary code, evolving a unique model for each of the 662 disks backward to an age of 1 Myr. We find that disk-bearing stars seldom have metallicities less than [Fe/H]=-0.2 and that the distribution of warm component masses lacks examples with large mass around stars of low metallicity ([Fe/H]<-0.085). Previous efforts to find a correlation have been largely unsuccessful; the primary improvements supporting our result are (1) basing the study on dust masses, not just infrared excess detections; (2) including upper limits on dust mass in a quantitative way; (3) accounting for the evolution of debris disk excesses as systems age; (4) accounting fully for the range of uncertainties in metallicity measurements; and (5) having a statistically large enough sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number171
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • circumstellar matter
  • infrared: stars
  • methods: numerical
  • planetary systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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