Simulations of the Fomalhaut System Within Its Local Galactic Environment [EPA]

Fomalhaut A is among the most well-studied nearby stars and has been discovered to possess a putative planetary object as well as a remarkable eccentric dust belt. This eccentric dust belt has often been interpreted as the dynamical signature of one or more planets that elude direct detection. However, the system also contains two other stellar companions residing ~100,000 AU from Fomalhaut A. We have designed a new symplectic integration algorithm to model the evolution of Fomalhaut A’s planetary dust belt in concert with the dynamical evolution of its stellar companions to determine if these companions are likely to have generated the dust belt’s morphology. Using our numerical simulations, we find that close encounters between Fomalhaut A and B are expected, with a ~25% probability that the two stars have passed within at least 400 AU of each other at some point. Although the outcomes of such encounter histories are extremely varied, these close encounters nearly always excite the eccentricity of Fomalhaut A’s dust belt and occasionally yield morphologies very similar to the observed belt. With these results, we argue that close encounters with Fomalhaut A’s stellar companions should be considered a plausible mechanism to explain its eccentric belt, especially in the absence of detected planets capable of sculpting the belt’s morphology. More broadly, we can also conclude from this work that very wide binary stars may often generate asymmetries in the stellar debris disks they host.

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N. Kaib, E. White and A. Izidoro
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Accepted to MNRAS, 22 pages, 15 figures, 2 appendices

Statistical Analysis of Hubble/WFC3 Transit Spectroscopy of Extrasolar Planets [EPA]

Transmission spectroscopy provides a window to study exoplanetary atmospheres, but that window is fogged by clouds and hazes. Clouds and haze introduce a degeneracy between the strength of gaseous absorption features and planetary physical parameters such as abundances. One way to break that degeneracy is via statistical studies. We collect all published HST/WFC3 transit spectra for 1.1-1.65 $\mu$m water vapor absorption, and perform a statistical study on potential correlations between the water absorption feature and planetary parameters. We fit the observed spectra with a template calculated for each planet using the Exo-Transmit code. We express the magnitude of the water absorption in scale heights, thereby removing the known dependence on temperature, surface gravity, and mean molecular weight. We find that the absorption in scale heights has a positive baseline correlation with planetary equilibrium temperature; our hypothesis is that decreasing cloud condensation with increasing temperature is responsible for this baseline slope. However, the observed sample is also intrinsically degenerate in the sense that equilibrium temperature correlates with planetary mass. We compile the distribution of absorption in scale heights, and we find that this distribution is closer to log-normal than Gaussian. However, we also find that the distribution of equilibrium temperatures for the observed planets is similarly log-normal. This indicates that the absorption values are affected by observational bias, whereby observers have not yet targeted a sufficient sample of the hottest planets.

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G. Fu, D. Deming, H. Knutson, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in ApJL; 6 pages, 4 figures, 1 table

Accretion of Planetary Material onto Host Stars [EPA]

Accretion of planetary material onto host stars may occur throughout a star’s life. Especially prone to accretion, extrasolar planets in short-period orbits, while relatively rare, constitute a significant fraction of the known population, and these planets are subject to dynamical and atmospheric influences that can drive significant mass loss. Theoretical models frame expectations regarding the rates and extent of this planetary accretion. For instance, tidal interactions between planets and stars may drive complete orbital decay during the main sequence. Many planets that survive their stars’ main sequence lifetime will still be engulfed when the host stars become red giant stars. There is some observational evidence supporting these predictions, such as a dearth of close-in planets around fast stellar rotators, which is consistent with tidal spin-up and planet accretion. There remains no clear chemical evidence for pollution of the atmospheres of main sequence or red giant stars by planetary materials, but a wealth of evidence points to active accretion by white dwarfs. In this article, we review the current understanding of accretion of planetary material, from the pre- to the post-main sequence and beyond. The review begins with the astrophysical framework for that process and then considers accretion during various phases of a host star’s life, during which the details of accretion vary, and the observational evidence for accretion during these phases.

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B. Jackson and J. Carlberg
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: 18 pages, 5 figures (with some redacted), invited review

Clearing residual planetesimals by sweeping secular resonances in transitional disks: a lone-planet scenario for the wide gaps in debris disks around Vega and Fomalhaut [EPA]

Extended gaps in the debris disks of both Vega and Fomalhaut have been observed. These structures have been attributed to tidal perturbations by multiple super-Jupiter gas giant planets. Within the current observational limits, however, no such massive planets have been detected. Here we propose a less stringent `lone-planet’ scenario to account for the observed structure with a single eccentric gas giant and suggest that clearing of these wide gaps is induced by its sweeping secular resonance. During the depletion of the disk gas, the planet’s secular resonance propagates inward and clears a wide gap over an extended region of the disk. Although some residual intermediate-size planetesimals may remain in the gap, their surface density is too low to either produce super-Earths or lead to sufficiently frequent disruptive collisions to generate any observable dusty signatures. The main advantage of this lone-planet sweeping-secular-resonance model over the previous multiple gas giant tidal truncation scenario is the relaxed requirement on the number of gas giants. The observationally inferred upper mass limit can also be satisfied provided the hypothetical planet has a significant eccentricity. A significant fraction of solar or more massive stars bear gas giant planets with significant eccentricities. If these planets acquired their present-day kinematic properties prior to the depletion of their natal disks, their sweeping secular resonance would effectively impede the retention of neighboring planets and planetesimals over a wide range of orbital semi-major axes.

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X. Zheng, D. Lin, M. Kouwenhoven, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: 20 pages, 12 figures. Accepted for publication in ApJ

KELT-19Ab: A P~4.6 Day Hot Jupiter Transiting a Likely Am Star with a Distant Stellar Companion [EPA]

We present the discovery of the giant planet KELT-19Ab, which transits the moderately bright ($V \sim 9.9$) A8V star TYC 764-1494-1. We confirm the planetary nature of the companion via a combination of low-precision radial velocities, which limit the mass to $M_{\rm P} < 4.1\,M_{\rm J}$ ($3\sigma$), and a clear Doppler tomography signal, which indicates a retrograde projected spin-orbit misalignment of $\lambda = -179.7^{+3.7}{-3.8}$ degrees. Global modeling indicates that the $T{\rm eff} =7500 \pm 110\,\rm K$ host star has $M_* = 1.62^{+0.25}{-0.20}\,M{\odot}$ and $R_* = 1.83 \pm 0.10\,R_{\odot}$. The planet has a radius of $R_{\rm P}=1.91 \pm 0.11\,R_{\rm J}$ and receives a stellar insolation flux of $\sim 3.2\times 10^{9}\,{\rm\,erg\,s^{-1}\,cm^{-2}}$, leading to an inferred equilibrium temperature of $T_{\rm eq} \sim 1935\,\rm K$ assuming zero albedo and complete heat redistribution. With a $v\sin{I_}=84.8\pm 2.0\,\rm km\,s^{-1}$, the host star is rapidly-rotating. Interestingly, its $v\sin{I_}$ is relatively low compared to other stars with similar effective temperatures, and it appears to be enhanced in metallic species such as strontium but deficient in others such as calcium, suggesting that it is likely an Am star. KELT-19A would be the first definitive detection of an Am host of a transiting planet of which we are aware. Adaptive optics observations of the system reveal the existence of a companion with late G9V/early K1V spectral type at a projected separation of $\approx 160\, \mathrm{AU}$. Radial velocity measurements indicate that this companion is bound. Most Am stars are known to have stellar companions, which are often invoked to explain the relatively slow rotation of the primary. In this case, the stellar companion is unlikely to have caused the tidal braking of the primary.

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R. Siverd, K. Collins, G. Zhou, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Submitted to AAS Journals. 16 pages, 13 figures, 6 tables

A Vorticity-Preserving Hydrodynamical Scheme for Modeling Accretion Disk Flows [EPA]

Vortices, turbulence, and unsteady non-laminar flows are likely both prominent and dynamically important features of astrophysical disks. Such strongly nonlinear phenomena are often difficult, however, to simulate accurately, and are generally amenable to analytic treatment only in idealized form. In this paper, we explore the evolution of compressible two-dimensional flows using an implicit dual-time hydrodynamical scheme that strictly conserves vorticity (if applied to simulate inviscid flows for which Kelvin’s Circulation Theorem is applicable). The algorithm is based on the work of Lerat, Falissard & Side (2007), who proposed it in the context of terrestrial applications such as the blade-vortex interactions generated by helicopter rotors. We present several tests of Lerat et al.’s vorticity-preserving approach, which we have implemented to second-order accuracy, providing side-by-side comparisons with other algorithms that are frequently used in protostellar disk simulations. The comparison codes include one based on explicit, second-order van-Leer advection, one based on spectral methods, and another that implements a higher-order Godunov solver. Our results suggest that Lerat et al’s algorithm will be useful for simulations of astrophysical environments in which vortices play a dynamical role, and where strong shocks are not expected.

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D. Seligman and G. Laughlin
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: Accepted by ApJ; 14 pages, 8 figures

Electron Heating and Saturation of Self-regulating Magnetorotational Instability in Protoplanetary Disks [EPA]

Magnetorotational instability (MRI) has a potential to generate the vigorous turbulence in protoplanetary disks, although its turbulence strength and accretion stress remains debatable because of the uncertainty of MRI with low ionization fraction. We focus on the heating of electrons by strong electric fields which amplifies nonideal magnetohydrodynamic effects. The heated electrons frequently collide with and stick to dust grains, which in turn decreases the ionization fraction and is expected to weaken the turbulent motion driven by MRI. In order to quantitatively investigate the nonlinear evolution of MRI including the electron heating, we perform magnetohydrodynamical simulation with the unstratified shearing box. We introduce a simple analytic resistivity model depending on the current density by mimicking resistivity given by the calculation of ionization. Our simulation confirms that the electron heating suppresses magnetic turbulence when the electron heating occurs with low current density. We find a clear correlation between magnetic stress and its current density, which means that the magnetic stress is proportional to the squared current density. When the turbulent motion is completely suppressed, laminar accretion flow is caused by ordered magnetic field. We give an analytical description of the laminar state by using a solution of linear perturbation equations with resistivity. We also propose a formula that successfully predicts the accretion stress in the presence of the electron heating.

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S. Mori, T. Muranushi, S. Okuzumi, et. al.
Fri, 22 Sep 17

Comments: 12 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ