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Expelled grains from an unseen parent body around AU Microscopii

Abstract : Context. Recent observations of the edge-on debris disk of AU Mic have revealed asymmetric, fast outward-moving arch-like structures above the disk midplane. Although asymmetries are frequent in debris disks, no model can readily explain the characteristics of these features. Aims. We present a model aiming to reproduce the dynamics of these structures, more specifically their high projected speeds and their apparent position. We test the hypothesis of dust emitted by a point source and then expelled from the system by the strong stellar wind of this young M-type star. In this model we make the assumption that the dust grains follow the same dynamics as the structures, i.e., they are not local density enhancements. Methods. We perform numerical simulations of test particle trajectories to explore the available parameter space, in particular the radial location R0 of the dust producing parent body and the size of the dust grains as parameterized by the value of β (ratio of stellar wind and radiation pressure forces over gravitation). We consider the cases of a static and of an orbiting parent body. Results. We find that for all considered scenarios (static or moving parent body), there is always a set of (R0,β) parameters able to fit the observed features. The common characteristics of these solutions is that they all require a high value of β, of around 6. This means that the star is probably very active, and the grains composing the structures are submicronic in order for observable grains to reach such high β values. We find that the location of the hypothetical parent body is closer in than the planetesimal belt, around 8 ± 2 au (orbiting case) or 28 ± 7 au (static case). A nearly periodic process of dust emission appears, of 2 yr in the orbiting scenarios and 7 yr in the static case. Conclusions. We show that the scenario of sequential dust releases by an unseen point-source parent body is able to explain the radial behavior of the observed structures. We predict the evolution of the structures to help future observations discriminate between the different parent body configurations that have been considered. In the orbiting parent body scenario, we expect new structures to appear on the northwest side of the disk in the coming years.
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E. Sezestre, J.-C. Augereau, A. Boccaletti, P. Thébault. Expelled grains from an unseen parent body around AU Microscopii. Astronomy and Astrophysics - A&A, EDP Sciences, 2017, 607, pp.A65. ⟨10.1051/0004-6361/201731061⟩. ⟨obspm-02192840⟩

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