UV spectroscopy of star-grazing comets within the 49 Ceti debris disk.
MILES B.E., ROBERGE A. and WELSH B.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the analysis of time-variable Doppler-shifted absorption features in far-UV spectra of the unusual 49 Ceti debris disk. This nearly edge-on disk is one of the brightest known and is one of the very few containing detectable amounts of circumstellar (CS) gas as well as dust. In our two visits of Hubble Space Telescope STIS spectra, variable absorption features are seen on the wings of lines arising from Cii and Civ but not for any of the other CS absorption lines. Similar variable features have long been seen in spectra of the well-studied βPictoris debris disk and attributed to the transits of star-grazing comets. We calculated the velocity ranges and apparent column densities of the 49 Cet variable gas, which appears to have been moving at velocities of tens to hundreds of km/s relative to the central star. The velocities in the redshifted variable event seen in the second visit show that the maximum distances of the infalling gas at the time of transit were about 0.05-0.2 au from the central star. A preliminary attempt at a composition analysis of the redshifted event suggests that the C/O ratio in the infalling gas is super-solar, as it is in the bulk of the stable disk gas.