Carl Melis: What are the dustiest main sequence stars telling about planetary systems?

Friday, 14 April 2023 2 p.m. — 3 p.m. MST

Gemini North Hilo Base Facility | 670 N A’ohoku Place Hilo, Hawaii, 96720, USA

Gemini North Talks
Carl Melis (University of California, San Diego)
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Carl Melis

Main sequence stars hosting extreme quantities of inner planetary system debris are likely experiencing violent dust production events. I will argue that these dusty systems are the result of recent giant impacts between rocky planetary embryos or planets orbiting in the stars' terrestrial planet zone and that the nature of these events can inform us on the formation and/or evolution of rocky Earth-like planets. Some systems present challenges to our understanding of such processes: stars that could potentially host carbon-dominated solid bodies, a system whose infrared excess emission (and hence dust) suddenly disappeared in 2009 and has yet to return, the dustiest main sequence star known whose dust intercepts 16% of the incoming stellar light and could be heralding the formation of a Mercury analog, and an intermediate-age star that experiences "dipper"-like lightcurve behavior due to transiting clumps of dust. I will discuss relevant processes that could produce the observed characteristics of the population of extremely dusty main sequence stars and outline tests that may distinguish between possible models.

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