Variability of the infrared excess of extreme debris disks

Huan Y.A. Meng, George H. Rieke, Kate Y.L. Su, Valentin D. Ivanov, Leonardo Vanzi, Wiphu Rujopakarn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Debris disks with extremely large infrared excesses (fractional luminosities >10-2) are rare. Those with ages between 30 and 130Myr are of interest because their evolution has progressed well beyond that of protoplanetary disks (which dissipate with a timescale of order 3Myr), yet they represent a period when dynamical models suggest that terrestrial planet building may still be progressing through large, violent collisions that could yield large amounts of debris and large infrared excesses. For example, our Moon was formed through a violent collision of two large protoplanets during this age range. We report two disks around the solar-like stars ID8 and HD23514 in this age range where the 24 μm infrared excesses vary on timescales of a few years, even though the stars are not variable in the optical. Variations this rapid are difficult to understand if the debris is produced by collisional cascades, as it is for most debris disks. It is possible that the debris in these two systems arises in part from condensates from silicate-rich vapor produced in a series of violent collisions among relatively large bodies. If their evolution is rapid, the rate of detection of extreme excesses would indicate that major collisions may be relatively common in this age range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL17
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 20 2012


  • circumstellar matter
  • infrared: stars
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • stars: individual (2MASS J08090250-4858172, HD 23514)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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