The inner rings of β Pictoris

Z. Wahhaj, D. W. Koerner, M. E. Ressler, M. W. Werner, D. E. Backman, A. I. Sargent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


We present Keck images of the dust disk around β Pictoris at λ = 17.9 μm that reveal new structure in its morphology. Within 1Prime; (19 AU) of the star, the long axis of the dust emission is rotated by more than 10° with respect to that of the overall disk. This angular offset is more pronounced than the warp detected at 3Prime;.5 by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and is in the opposite direction. By contrast, the long axis of the emission contours ∼1Prime;.5 from the star is aligned with the HST warp. Emission peaks between 1Prime;.5 and 4Prime; from the star hint at the presence of rings similar to those observed in the outer disk at ∼25″ with the HST Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. A deconvolved image strongly suggests that the newly detected features arise from a system of four noncoplanar rings. Bayesian estimates based on the primary image lead to ring radii of 14 ± 1, 28 ± 3, 52 ± 2, and 82 ± 2 AU, with orbital inclinations that alternate in orientation relative to the overall disk and decrease in magnitude with increasing radius. We believe these new results make a strong case for the existence of a nascent planetary system around β Pic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L27-L30
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Feb 10 2003


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Infrared: stars
  • Planetary systems: formation
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks
  • Solar system: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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