University of Leicester
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A planetesimal orbiting within the debris disc around a white dwarf star.

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posted on 2019-04-26, 13:16 authored by CJ Manser, BT Gänsicke, S Eggl, M Hollands, P Izquierdo, D Koester, JD Landstreet, W Lyra, TR Marsh, F Meru, AJ Mustill, P Rodríguez-Gil, O Toloza, D Veras, DJ Wilson, MR Burleigh, MB Davies, J Farihi, N Gentile Fusillo, D de Martino, SG Parsons, A Quirrenbach, R Raddi, S Reffert, M Del Santo, MR Schreiber, R Silvotti, S Toonen, E Villaver, M Wyatt, S Xu, S Portegies Zwart
Many white dwarf stars show signs of having accreted smaller bodies, implying that they may host planetary systems. A small number of these systems contain gaseous debris discs, visible through emission lines. We report a stable 123.4-minute periodic variation in the strength and shape of the Ca ii emission line profiles originating from the debris disc around the white dwarf SDSS J122859.93+104032.9. We interpret this short-period signal as the signature of a solid-body planetesimal held together by its internal strength.


Acknowledgments: This work is based on observations made with the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC), installed in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, in La Palma, Canary Islands. This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium [(DPAC),]. Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. Based on observations made with European Southern Observatory (ESO) Telescopes at the La Silla Paranal Observatory under program IDs: 595.C-0650. Funding: This research has been carried out with telescope time awarded by the CCI International Time Programme. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement 320964 (WDTracer). T.R.M. acknowledges support from STFC (ST/P000495/1). J.D.L acknowledges the funding support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. D.V. acknowledges the support of the STFC via an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship (grant ST/P003850/1). M.R.S. is thankful for support from Fondecyt (1141269). A.J.M. and M.B.D. acknowledge the support of KAW project grant 2014.0017. A.J.M. also acknowledges the support of VR grant 2017-04945. O.T. was partially supported by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant. F.M. acknowledges support from the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. P.R.-G. acknowledges support provided by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness through grant AYA-2017-83383-P, which is partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union. This research was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory through the California Institute of Tec



Science, 2019, 364 (6435), pp. 66-69

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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The data used in this research are available from the ESO VLT archive (36), under proposal number 595.C-0650(G), and the GTC archive (37), under proposal numbers GTC1–16ITP and GTC25–18A. The ZEEMAN software and the model shown in fig. S5 are available from The PENCIL CODE software is available at; we used version #f4f2f16, with the model shown in figs. S6 and S7 in the directory pencil-code/samples/2d-tests/WhiteDwarfDisk.



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