Searching For A Cometary Belt Around Trappist-1 With ALMA

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 23, 2019
Filed under
Searching For A Cometary Belt Around Trappist-1 With ALMA

Low mass stars might offer today the best opportunities to detect and characterise planetary systems, especially those harbouring close-in low mass temperate planets.

Among those stars, Trappist-1 is exceptional since it has seven Earth-sized planets, of which three could sustain liquid water on their surfaces. Here we present new and deep ALMA observations of Trappist-1 to look for an exo-Kuiper belt which can provide clues about the formation and architecture of this system. Our observations at 0.88 mm did not detect dust emission, but can place an upper limit of 23μJy if the belt is unresolved or smaller than 4 au, and 0.15 mJy if resolved and 100 au in radius. These limits correspond to low dust masses of ~10−5-10−2 M⊕, which are expected after 8 Gyr of collisional evolution unless the system was born with a >20 M⊕ belt of 100 km-sized planetesimals beyond 40 au. This 20 M⊕ mass upper limit is comparable to the combined mass in Trappist-1 planets, thus it is possible that most of the available solid mass in these systems was used to form the known planets.

A similar analysis of the ALMA data on Proxima Cen leads us to conclude that Proxima Cen cannot have been born with a belt of 100 km-sized planetesimals more massive than 10 M⊕ between 20-40 au. Future characterisations of debris discs around low mass stars should focus on nearby and young systems which have not suffered significant collisional evolution beyond 10 au.

S. Marino, M. C. Wyatt, G. M. Kennedy, M. Kama, L. Matrà, A. H. M. J. Triaud, Th. Henning
(Submitted on 19 Sep 2019)

Comments: submitted to MNRAS, 6 pages, 5 figures, comments welcomed
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1909.09158 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1909.09158v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Sebastian Marino
[v1] Thu, 19 Sep 2019 18:00:00 UTC (1,097 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻