Trends in Silicates in the β Pictoris Disk

1Cicero X. Lu et al. (>10)
The Astrophysical Journal 933, 54 Open Access Link to Article [DOI 10.3847/1538-4357/ac70d1]
1Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA; cicerolu@jhu.edu

While β Pic is known to host silicates in ring-like structures, whether the properties of these silicate dust vary with stellocentric distance remains an open question. We re-analyze the β Pictoris debris disk spectrum from the Spitzer Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) and a new Infrared Telescope Facility Spectrograph and Imager spectrum to investigate trends in Fe/Mg ratio, shape, and crystallinity in grains as a function of wavelength, a proxy for stellocentric distance. By analyzing a re-calibrated and re-extracted spectrum, we identify a new 18 μm forsterite emission feature and recover a 23 μm forsterite emission feature with a substantially larger line-to-continuum ratio than previously reported. We find that these prominent spectral features are primarily produced by small submicron-sized grains, which are continuously generated and replenished from planetesimal collisions in the disk and can elucidate their parent bodies’ composition. We discover three trends about these small grains: as stellocentric distance increases, (1) small silicate grains become more crystalline (less amorphous), (2) they become more irregular in shape, and (3) for crystalline silicate grains, the Fe/Mg ratio decreases. Applying these trends to β Pic’s planetary architecture, we find that the dust population exterior to the orbits of β Pic b and c differs substantially in crystallinity and shape. We also find a tentative 3–5 μm dust excess due to spatially unresolved hot dust emission close to the star. From our findings, we infer that the surfaces of large planetesimals are more Fe-rich and collisionally processed closer to the star but more Fe-poor and primordial farther from the star.

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