Images of the extended outer regions of the debris ring around HR 4796 A

C. Thalmann, M. Janson, E. Buenzli, T. D. Brandt, J. P. Wisniewski, A. Moro-Martín, T. Usuda, G. Schneider, J. Carson, M. W. McElwain, C. A. Grady, M. Goto, L. Abe, W. Brandner, C. Dominik, S. Egner, M. Feldt, T. Fukue, T. Golota, O. GuyonJ. Hashimoto, Y. Hayano, M. Hayashi, S. Hayashi, T. Henning, K. W. Hodapp, M. Ishii, M. Iye, R. Kandori, G. R. Knapp, T. Kudo, N. Kusakabe, M. Kuzuhara, T. Matsuo, S. Miyama, J. I. Morino, T. Nishimura, T. S. Pyo, E. Serabyn, H. Suto, R. Suzuki, Y. H. Takahashi, M. Takami, N. Takato, H. Terada, D. Tomono, E. L. Turner, M. Watanabe, T. Yamada, H. Takami, M. Tamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


We present high-contrast images of HR 4796 A taken with Subaru/HiCIAO in the H band, resolving the debris disk in scattered light. The application of specialized angular differential imaging methods allows us to trace the inner edge of the disk with high precision and reveals a pair of "streamers" extending radially outward from the ansae. Using a simple disk model with a power-law surface brightness profile, we demonstrate that the observed streamers can be understood as part of the smoothly tapered outer boundary of the debris disk, which is most visible at the ansae. Our observations are consistent with the expected result of a narrow planetesimal ring being ground up in a collisional cascade, yielding dust with a wide range of grain sizes. Radiation forces leave large grains in the ring and push smaller grains onto elliptical or even hyperbolic trajectories. We measure and characterize the disk's surface brightness profile, and confirm the previously suspected offset of the disk's center from the star's position along the ring's major axis. Furthermore, we present first evidence for an offset along the minor axis. Such offsets are commonly viewed as signposts for the presence of unseen planets within a disk's cavity. Our images also offer new constraints on the presence of companions down to the planetary mass regime (∼9 M Jup at 0″.5, ∼3M Jup at 1″).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL6
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • circumstellar matter
  • planetary systems
  • stars: individual (HR 4796 A)
  • techniques: high angular resolution


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