James Webb Space Telescope Feed Post

Date: 7/9/2024

Harvard ADS: MIRI MRS Observations of Beta Pictoris II. The Spectroscopic Case for a Recent Giant Collision

Paper abstract: Modeling observations of the archetypal debris disk around \beta Pic, obtained in 2023 January with the MIRI MRS on board JWST, reveals significant differences compared with that obtained with the IRS on board Spitzer. The bright 5 - 15 \mum continuum excess modeled using a ~600 K black body has disappeared. The previously prominent 18 and 23 \mum crystalline forsterite emission features, arising from cold dust (~100 K) in the Rayleigh limit, have disappeared and been replaced by very weak features arising from the hotter 500 K dust population. Finally, the shape of the 10 \mum silicate feature has changed, consistent with a shift in the temperature of the warm dust population from ~300 K to ~500 K and an increase in the crystalline fraction of the warm, silicate dust. Stellar radiation pressure may have blown both the hot and the cold crystalline dust particles observed in the Spitzer spectra out of the planetary system during the intervening 20 years between the Spitzer and JWST observations. These results indicate that the \beta Pic system has a dynamic circumstellar environment, and that periods of enhanced collisions can create large clouds of dust that sweep through the planetary system.