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[en] We present a Spitzer MIPS study of the decay of debris disk excesses at 24 and 70 μm for 255 stars of types F4-K2. We have used multiple tests, including consistency between chromospheric and X-ray activity and placement on the H-R diagram, to assign accurate stellar ages. Within this spectral type range, at 24 μm, 13.6% ± 2.8% of the stars younger than 1 Gyr have excesses at the 3σ level or more, whereas none of the older stars do, confirming previous work. At 70 μm, 22.5% ± 3.6% of the younger stars have excesses at ≥3σ significance, whereas only 4.7−2.2+3.7% of the older stars do. To characterize the far-infrared behavior of debris disks more robustly, we doubled the sample by including stars from the DEBRIS and DUNES surveys. For the F4-K4 stars in this combined sample, there is only a weak (statistically not significant) trend in the incidence of far-infrared excess with spectral type (detected fractions of 21.9−4.3+4.8%, late F; 16.5−3.3+3.9%, G; and 16.9−5.0+6.3%, early K). Taking this spectral type range together, there is a significant decline between 3 and 4.5 Gyr in the incidence of excesses, with fractional luminosities just under 10–5. There is an indication that the timescale for decay of infrared excesses varies roughly inversely with the fractional luminosity. This behavior is consistent with theoretical expectations for passive evolution. However, more excesses are detected around the oldest stars than are expected from passive evolution, suggesting that there is late-phase dynamical activity around these stars.
[en] We present 24 μm photometry of the intermediate-age open cluster Praesepe. We assemble a catalog of 193 probable cluster members that are detected in optical databases, the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), and at 24 μm, within an area of ∼2.47 deg2. Mid-IR excesses indicating debris disks are found for one early-type and for three solar-type stars. Corrections for sampling statistics yield a 24 μm excess fraction (debris disk fraction) of 6.5% ± 4.1% for luminous and 1.9% ± 1.2% for solar-type stars. The incidence of excesses is in agreement with the decay trend of debris disks as a function of age observed for other cluster and field stars. The values also agree with those for older stars, indicating that debris generation in the zones that emit at 24 μm falls to the older 1-10 Gyr field star sample value by roughly 750 Myr. We discuss our results in the context of previous observations of excess fractions for early- and solar-type stars. We show that solar-type stars lose their debris disk 24 μm excesses on a shorter timescale than early-type stars. Simplistic Monte Carlo models suggest that, during the first Gyr of their evolution, up to 15%-30% of solar-type stars might undergo an orbital realignment of giant planets such as the one thought to have led to the Late Heavy Bombardment, if the length of the bombardment episode is similar to the one thought to have happened in our solar system. In the Appendix, we determine the cluster's parameters via bootstrap Monte Carlo isochrone fitting, yielding an age of 757 Myr (±36 Myr at 1σ confidence) and a distance of 179 pc (±2 pc at 1σ confidence), not allowing for systematic errors.
[en] We compare the properties of warm dust emission from a sample of main-sequence A-type stars (B8-A7) to those of dust around solar-type stars (F5-K0) with similar Spitzer Space Telescope Infrared Spectrograph/MIPS data and similar ages. Both samples include stars with sources with infrared spectral energy distributions that show evidence of multiple components. Over the range of stellar types considered, we obtain nearly the same characteristic dust temperatures (∼190 K and ∼60 K for the inner and outer dust components, respectively)-slightly above the ice evaporation temperature for the inner belts. The warm inner dust temperature is readily explained if populations of small grains are being released by sublimation of ice from icy planetesimals. Evaporation of low-eccentricity icy bodies at ∼150 K can deposit particles into an inner/warm belt, where the small grains are heated to Tdust∼ 190 K. Alternatively, enhanced collisional processing of an asteroid belt-like system of parent planetesimals just interior to the snow line may account for the observed uniformity in dust temperature. The similarity in temperature of the warmer dust across our B8-K0 stellar sample strongly suggests that dust-producing planetesimals are not found at similar radial locations around all stars, but that dust production is favored at a characteristic temperature horizon.
[en] Using observations of Spitzer/IRAC, we report the serendipitous discovery of excess infrared emission from a single white dwarf PG 0010+280. At a temperature of 27,220 K and a cooling age of 16 Myr, it is the hottest and youngest white dwarf to display an excess at 3–8 μm. The infrared excess can be fit by either an opaque dust disk within the tidal radius of the white dwarf or a 1300 K blackbody, possibly from an irradiated substellar object or a re-heated giant planet. PG 0010+280 has two unique properties that are different from white dwarfs with a dust disk: (i) relatively low emission at 8 μm and (ii) non-detection of heavy elements in its atmosphere from high-resolution spectroscopic observations with Keck/HIRES. The origin of the infrared excess remains unclear
[en] We present a model that describes stellar infrared excesses due to heating of the interstellar (IS) dust by a hot star passing through a diffuse IS cloud. This model is applied to six λ Bootis stars with infrared excesses. Plausible values for the IS medium (ISM) density and relative velocity between the cloud and the star yield fits to the excess emission. This result is consistent with the diffusion/accretion hypothesis that λ Bootis stars (A- to F-type stars with large underabundances of Fe-peak elements) owe their characteristics to interactions with the ISM. This proposal invokes radiation pressure from the star to repel the IS dust and excavate a paraboloidal dust cavity in the IS cloud, while the metal-poor gas is accreted onto the stellar photosphere. However, the measurements of the infrared excesses can also be fit by planetary debris disk models. A more detailed consideration of the conditions to produce λ Bootis characteristics indicates that the majority of infrared-excess stars within the Local Bubble probably have debris disks. Nevertheless, more distant stars may often have excesses due to heating of IS material such as in our model.
[en] We present Spitzer MIPS observations at 24 μm of 37 solar-type stars in the Pleiades and combine them with previous observations to obtain a sample of 71 stars. We report that 23 stars, or 32% ± 6.8%, have excesses at 24 μm at least 10% above their photospheric emission. We compare our results with studies of debris disks in other open clusters and with a study of A stars to show that debris disks around solar-type stars at 115 Myr occur at nearly the same rate as around A-type stars. We analyze the effects of binarity and X-ray activity on the excess flux. Stars with warm excesses tend not to be in equal-mass binary systems, possibly due to clearing of planetesimals by binary companions in similar orbits. We find that the apparent anti-correlations in the incidence of excess and both the rate of stellar rotation and also the level of activity as judged by X-ray emission are statistically weak.
[en] As a step toward a comprehensive overview of the infrared (IR) diagnostics of the central engines and host galaxies of quasars at low redshift, we present Spitzer Space Telescope spectroscopic (5-40 μm) and photometric (24, 70, and 160 μm) measurements of all Palomar-Green (PG) quasars at z < 0.5 and Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS) quasars at z < 0.3. We supplement these data with Herschel measurements at 160 μm. The sample is composed of 87 optically selected PG quasars and 52 near-IR-selected 2MASS quasars. Here we present the data, measure the prominent spectral features, and separate emission due to star formation from that emitted by the dusty circumnuclear torus. We find that the mid-IR (5-30 μm) spectral shape for the torus is largely independent of quasar IR luminosity with scatter in the spectral energy distribution (SED) shape of ≲0.2 dex. Except for the silicate features, no large difference is observed between PG (unobscured—silicate emission) and 2MASS (obscured—silicate absorption) quasars. Only mild silicate features are observed in both cases. When in emission, the peak wavelength of the silicate feature tends to be longer than 9.7 μm, possibly indicating effects on grain properties near the active galactic nucleus. The IR color is shown to correlate with the equivalent width of the aromatic features, indicating that the slope of the quasar mid- to far-IR SED is to first order driven by the fraction of radiation from star formation in the IR bands
[en] We have obtained a full suite of Spitzer observations to characterize the debris disk around HR 8799 and to explore how its properties are related to the recently discovered set of three massive planets orbiting the star. We distinguish three components to the debris system: (1) warm dust (T ∼ 150 K) orbiting within the innermost planet; (2) a broad zone of cold dust (T ∼ 45 K) with a sharp inner edge orbiting just outside the outermost planet and presumably sculpted by it; and (3) a dramatic halo of small grains originating in the cold dust component. The high level of dynamical activity implied by this halo may arise due to enhanced gravitational stirring by the massive planets. The relatively young age of HR 8799 places it in an important early stage of development and may provide some help in understanding the interaction of planets and planetary debris, an important process in the evolution of our own solar system.
[en] The absolute flux calibration of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be based on a set of stars observed by the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. In order to cross-calibrate the two facilities, several A, G, and white dwarf stars are observed with both Spitzer and Hubble and are the prototypes for a set of JWST calibration standards. The flux calibration constants for the four Spitzer IRAC bands 1-4 are derived from these stars and are 2.3%, 1.9%, 2.0%, and 0.5% lower than the official cold-mission IRAC calibration of Reach et al., i.e., in agreement within their estimated errors of ∼2%. The causes of these differences lie primarily in the IRAC data reduction and secondarily in the spectral energy distributions of our standard stars. The independent IRAC 8 μm band-4 fluxes of Rieke et al. are about 1.5% ± 2% higher than those of Reach et al. and are also in agreement with our 8 μm result.
[en] A deep and detailed examination of 29 classical Cepheids with the Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed three stars with strong nearby extended emission detected in multiple bands which appears to be physically associated with the stars. RS Pup was already known to possess extended infrared emission, while the extended emission around the other two stars (S Mus and δ Cep) is newly discovered in our observations. Four other stars (GH Lup, l Car, T Mon, and X Cyg) show tentative evidence for extended infrared emission. An unusual elongated extended object next to SZ Tau appears to be a background or foreground object in a chance alignment with the Cepheid. The inferred mass-loss rate upper limits for S Mus and δ Cep are in the range from 10-9 to 10-8 Msun yr-1, with the upper limit for RS Pup as high as 10-6 Msun yr-1. Mass loss during post-main-sequence evolution has been proposed as a resolution to the discrepancy between pulsational and dynamical masses of Cepheid variable stars: dust in the lost material would make itself known by the presence of an infrared bright nebula or unresolved infrared excess. The observed frequency of infrared circumstellar emission (<24%) and the mass-loss rate we estimate for our sources show that dusty mass loss can only account for part of the Cepheid mass-loss discrepancy. Nevertheless, our direct evidence that mass loss is active during the Cepheid phase is an important confirmation that these processes need to be included in evolutionary and pulsation models of these stars and should be taken into account in the calibration of the Cepheid distance scale.