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Eccentric debris disc morphologies - I. Exploring the origin of apocentre and pericentre glows in face-on debris discs

Abstract : The location of surface brightness maxima (e.g. apocentre and pericentre glow) in eccentric debris discs are often used to infer the underlying orbits of the dust and planetesimals that comprise the disc. However, there is a misconception that eccentric discs have higher surface densities at apocentre and thus necessarily exhibit apocentre glow at long wavelengths. This arises from the expectation that the slower velocities at apocentre lead to a 'pile up' of dust, which fails to account for the greater area over which dust is spread at apocentre. Instead we show with theory and by modelling three different regimes that the morphology and surface brightness distributions of face-on debris discs are strongly dependent on their eccentricity profile (i.e. whether this is constant, rising, or falling with distance). We demonstrate that at shorter wavelengths the classical pericentre glow effect remains true, whereas at longer wavelengths discs can either demonstrate apocentre glow or pericentre glow. We additionally show that at long wavelengths the same disc morphology can produce either apocentre glow or pericentre glow depending on the observational resolution. Finally, we show that the classical approach of interpreting eccentric debris discs using line densities is only valid under an extremely limited set of circumstances, which are unlikely to be met as debris disc observations become increasingly better resolved.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 1, 2022 - 2:07:45 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 24, 2022 - 12:02:05 PM

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Elliot M. Lynch, Joshua B. Lovell. Eccentric debris disc morphologies - I. Exploring the origin of apocentre and pericentre glows in face-on debris discs. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2022, 510, pp.2538-2551. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stab3566⟩. ⟨insu-03711536⟩

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