A planetary collision afterglow and transit of the resultant debris cloud

Matthew Kenworthy*, Simon Lock, Grant Kennedy, Richelle van Capelleveen, Eric Mamajek, Ludmila Carone, Franz-Josef Hambsch, Joseph Masiero, Amy Mainzer, J. Davy Kirkpatrick, Edward Gomez, Zoe M Leinhardt, Jingyao Dou, Pavan Tanna, Arttu Sainio, Hamish Barker, Stéphane Charbonnel, Olivier Garde, Pascal Le Dû, Lionel MulatoThomas Petit, Michael Rizzo Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Planets grow in rotating disks of dust and gas around forming stars, some of which can subsequently collide in giant impacts after the gas component is removed from the disk1,2,3. Monitoring programmes with the warm Spitzer mission have recorded substantial and rapid changes in mid-infrared output for several stars, interpreted as variations in the surface area of warm, dusty material ejected by planetary-scale collisions and heated by the central star: for example, NGC 2354–ID8 (refs. 4,5), HD 166191 (ref. 6) and V488 Persei7. Here we report combined observations of the young (about 300 million years old), solar-like star ASASSN-21qj: an infrared brightening consistent with a blackbody temperature of 1,000 Kelvin and a luminosity that is 4 percent that of the star lasting for about 1,000 days, partially overlapping in time with a complex and deep, wavelength-dependent optical eclipse that lasted for about 500 days. The optical eclipse started 2.5 years after the infrared brightening, implying an orbital period of at least that duration. These observations are consistent with a collision between two exoplanets of several to tens of Earth masses at 2–16 astronomical units from the central star. Such an impact produces a hot, highly extended post-impact remnant with sufficient luminosity to explain the infrared observations. Transit of the impact debris, sheared by orbital motion into a long cloud, causes the subsequent complex eclipse of the host star.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-254
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume622
Issue number7982
Early online date11 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
G.K. is supported by the Royal Society as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. S.J.L. acknowledges funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (grant NE/V014129/1). L.C. acknowledges funding from the European Union H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019 under grant agreement no. 860470 (CHAMELEON). J.D. acknowledges funding support from the Chinese Scholarship Council (no. 202008610218). Giant impact simulations were carried out using the Isambard 2 UK National Tier-2 HPC Service (http://gw4.ac.uk/isambard/) operated by GW4 and the UK Met Office and funded by EPSRC (EP/T022078/1). We thank K. Stanek and the work of the ASAS-SN team with their survey and for providing public access to the database. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).

Funding Information:
G.K. is supported by the Royal Society as a Royal Society University Research Fellow. S.J.L. acknowledges funding from the UK Natural Environment Research Council (grant NE/V014129/1). L.C. acknowledges funding from the European Union H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019 under grant agreement no. 860470 (CHAMELEON). J.D. acknowledges funding support from the Chinese Scholarship Council (no. 202008610218). Giant impact simulations were carried out using the Isambard 2 UK National Tier-2 HPC Service ( http://gw4.ac.uk/isambard/ ) operated by GW4 and the UK Met Office and funded by EPSRC (EP/T022078/1). We thank K. Stanek and the work of the ASAS-SN team with their survey and for providing public access to the database. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (80NM0018D0004).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Keywords

  • astronomy and astrophysics
  • TRANSIT
  • Planetary
  • Planetary formation
  • giant impact

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