Finding Rocky Asteroids Around White Dwarfs by Their Periodic Thermal Emission
Lin, Henry W.
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CitationLin, Henry W., and Abraham Loeb. 2014. “FINDING ROCKY ASTEROIDS AROUND WHITE DWARFS BY THEIR PERIODIC THERMAL EMISSION.” The Astrophysical Journal 793 (2): L43. https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/793/2/l43.
AbstractSince white dwarfs (WDs) are small, the contrast between the thermal emission of an orbiting object and a WD is dramatically enhanced compared to a main-sequence host. Furthermore, rocky objects much smaller than the moon have no atmospheres and are tidally locked to the WD. We show that this leads to temperature contrasts between their day and night side of the order of unity that should lead to temporal variations in infrared flux over an orbital period of similar to 0.2 to similar to 2 days. Ground-based telescopes could detect objects with a mass as small as 1% of the lunar mass M-L around Sirius B with a few hours of exposure. The James Webb Space Telescope may be able to detect objects as small as 10(-3) M-L around most nearby WDs. The tightest constraints will typically be placed on 12,000 K WDs, whose Roche zone coincides with the dust sublimation zone. Constraining the abundance of minor planets around WDs as a function of their surface temperatures (and therefore age) provides a novel probe for the physics of planetary formation.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41412244
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