Volume 607, November 2017
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||31 October 2017|
Fe I in the β Pictoris circumstellar gas disk
I. Physical properties of the neutral iron gas⋆
1 CNRS, UMR 7095, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France
2 UPMC Univ. Paris 6, UMR 7095, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France
3 School of Physics and Astronomy, Tel-Aviv University, 69978 Tel-Aviv, Israel
4 Observatoire de l’Université de Genève, 51 chemin des Maillettes, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
Received: 10 November 2016
Accepted: 13 September 2017
The young planetary system β Pictoris is surrounded by a circumstellar disk of dust and gas. Because both dust and gas have a lifetime shorter than the system age, they need to be replenished continuously. The gas composition is partly known, but its location and its origin are still a puzzle. The gas source could be the exocomets (or so-called falling and evaporating bodies, FEBs), which are observed as transient features in absorption lines of refractory elements (Mg, Ca, and Fe) when they transit in front of the star at several tens of stellar radii. Nearly 1700 high-resolution spectra of β Pictoris have been obtained from 2003 to 2015 using the HARPS spectrograph. In these spectra, the circumstellar disk is always detected as a stable component among the numerous variable absorption signatures of transiting exocomets. Summing all the 1700 spectra allowed us to reach a signal-to-noise ratio higher than 1000, which is an unprecedentedly high number for a β Pictoris spectrum. It revealed many weak Fe I absorption lines of the circumstellar gas in more than ten excited states. These weak lines bring new information on the physical properties of the neutral iron gas in the circumstellar disk. The population of the first excited levels follows a Boltzmann distribution with a slope consistent with a gas temperature of about 1300 K; this temperature corresponds to a distance to the star of ~38 RStar and implies a turbulence of ξ ~ 0.8 km s-1.
Key words: planetary systems / circumstellar matter
A copy of the averaged spectrum (FITS file) is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (220.127.116.11) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/607/A25
© ESO, 2017
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