Collisions and drag in debris discs with eccentric parent belts
1 Astrophysikalisches Institut und Universitätssternwarte, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Schillergässchen 2–3, 07745 Jena, Germany
2 Institut für Theoretische Physik und Astrophysik, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Leibnizstraße 15, 24118 Kiel, Germany
Received: 20 December 2016
Accepted: 21 April 2017
Context. High-resolution images of circumstellar debris discs reveal off-centred rings that indicate past or ongoing perturbation, possibly caused by secular gravitational interaction with unseen stellar or substellar companions. The purely dynamical aspects of this departure from radial symmetry are well understood. However, the observed dust is subject to additional forces and effects, most notably collisions and drag.
Aims. To complement the studies of dynamics, we therefore aim to understand how the addition of collisional evolution and drag forces creates new asymmetries and strengthens or overrides existing ones.
Methods. We augmented our existing numerical code Analysis of Collisional Evolution (ACE) by an azimuthal dimension, the longitude of periapse. A set of fiducial discs with global eccentricities ranging from 0 to 0.4 was evolved over gigayear timescales. Size distribution and spatial variation of dust were analysed and interpreted. We discuss the basic impact of belt eccentricity on spectral energy distributions and images.
Results. We find features imposed on characteristic timescales. First, radiation pressure defines size cut-offs that differ between periapse and apoapse, resulting in an asymmetric halo. The differences in size distribution make the observable asymmetry of the halo depend on wavelength. Second, collisional equilibrium prefers smaller grains on the apastron side of the parent belt, reducing the effect of pericentre glow and the overall asymmetry. Third, Poynting–Robertson drag fills the region interior to an eccentric belt such that the apastron side is more tenuous. Interpretation and prediction of the appearance in scattered light is problematic when spatial and size distribution are coupled.
Key words: circumstellar matter / planet-disk interactions / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2017