The inner disk structure, disk-planet interactions, and temporal evolution in the β pictoris system: A two-epoch HST/stis coronagraphic study

Daniel Apai, Glenn Schneider, Carol A. Grady, Mark C. Wyatt, Anne Marie Lagrange, Marc J. Kuchner, Christopher J. Stark, Stephen H. Lubow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


We present deep Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph coronagraphic images of the β Pic debris disk obtained at two epochs separated by 15 yr. The new images and the re-reduction of the 1997 data provide the most sensitive and detailed views of the disk at optical wavelengths as well as the yet smallest inner working angle optical coronagraphic image of the disk. Our observations characterize the large-scale and inner-disk asymmetries and we identify multiple breaks in the disk radial surface brightness profile. We study in detail the radial and vertical disk structure and show that the disk is warped. We explore the disk at the location of the β Pic b super-Jupiter and find that the disk surface brightness slope is continuous between 0.″5 and 2.″0, arguing for no change at the separations where β Pic b orbits. The two epoch images constrain the disk's surface brightness evolution on orbital and radiation pressure blow-out timescales. We place an upper limit of 3% on the disk surface brightness change between 3″ and 5″, including the locations of the disk warp, and the CO and dust clumps. We discuss the new observations in the context of high-resolution multi-wavelength images and divide the disk asymmetries in two groups: axisymmetric and non-axisymmetric. The axisymmetric structures (warp, large-scale butterfly, etc.) are consistent with disk structure models that include interactions of a planetesimal belt and a non-coplanar giant planet. The non-axisymmetric features, however, require a different explanation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 20 2015



  • minor planets, asteroids: general
  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • protoplanetary disks
  • stars: individual (Beta Pictoris)
  • techniques: high angular resolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics

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