Formation of Gaps in Self-gravitating Debris Disks by Secular Resonance in a Single-planet System. I. A Simplified Model


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Abstract: Spatially resolved images of debris disks frequently reveal complex morphologies such as gaps, spirals, and warps. Most existing models for explaining such morphologies focus on the role of massive perturbers (i.e., planets, stellar companions), ignoring the gravitational effects of the disk itself. Here we investigate the secular interaction between an eccentric planet and a massive, external debris disk using a simple analytical model. Our framework accounts for both the gravitational coupling between the disk and the planet, as well as the disk self-gravity—with the limitation that it ignores the non-axisymmetric component of the disk (self-)gravity. We find generally that even when the disk is less massive than the planet, the system may feature secular resonances within the disk (contrary to what may be naively expected), where planetesimal eccentricities get significantly excited. Given this outcome, we propose that double-ringed debris disks, such as those around HD 107146 and HD 92945, could be the result of secular resonances with a yet-undetected planet interior to the disk. We characterize the dependence of the properties of the secular resonances (i.e., locations, timescales, and widths) on the planet and disk parameters, finding that the mechanism is robust provided the disk is massive enough. As an example, we apply our results to HD 107146 and find that this mechanism readily produces ∼20 au wide non-axisymmetric gaps. Our results may be used to set constraints on the total mass of double-ringed debris disks. We demonstrate this for HD 206893, for which we infer a disk mass of ≈170M ⊕ by considering perturbations from the known brown dwarf companion.

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350, The Solar System, Exoplanets, and Astrobiology
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The Astrophysical Journal
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The American Astronomical Society
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) (OPP1144)