Observability of dusty debris discs around M-stars

Patricia Luppe, Alexander V. Krivov, Mark Booth, Jean-François Lestrade

Debris discs are second-generation dusty discs formed by collisions of planetesimals. Many debris discs have been found and resolved around hot and solar-type stars. However, only a handful have been discovered around M-stars, and the reasons for their paucity remain unclear. Here, we check whether the sensitivity and wavelength coverage of present-day telescopes are simply unfavourable for detection of these discs or if they are truly rare. We approach this question by looking at the Herschel/DEBRIS survey that has searched for debris discs including M-type stars. Assuming that these cool-star discs are ’similar‘ to those of the hotter stars in some sense (i.e. in terms of dust location, temperature, fractional luminosity, or mass), we check whether this survey should have found them. With our procedure we can reproduce the 2.1+4.5−1.7 per cent detection rate of M-star debris discs of the DEBRIS survey, which implies that these discs can indeed be similar to discs around hotter stars and just avoid detection. We then apply this procedure to IRAM NIKA-2 and ALMA bands 3, 6, and 7 to predict possible detection rates and give recommendations for future observations. We do not favour observing with IRAM, since it leads to detection rates lower than for the DEBRIS survey, with 0.6-4.5 per cent for a 15 min observation. ALMA observations, with detection rates 0.9-7.2 per cent, do not offer a significant improvement either, and so we conclude that more sensitive far-infrared and single dish sub-millimetre telescopes are necessary to discover the missing population of M-star debris discs.

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 499, Issue 3, pp.3932-3942

Pub Date
December 2020