AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 33. Extra-Solar Planets
Oral, Monday, January 7, 2002, 2:00-3:30pm, International Ballroom Center

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[33.08] Searching for Comets Around Distant Stars

K. E. S. Ford, D. A. Neufeld (Johns Hopkins University)

Recent observations with the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) have detected emission at 557 GHz from the 110-101 transition of water vapor, towards the carbon-rich star IRC+10216. These observations have been interpreted as evidence for the presence of vaporizing orbiting icy bodies in a system analogous to the Kuiper Belt. The carbon-rich nature of IRC+10216 is a critical piece of this interpretation, as water vapor is entirely unexpected in such an environment. Other carbon stars may also harbor such detectable systems; however, the strength of the 557 GHz line in any particular system may depend on several parameters, in particular, the stellar mass loss rate. This is due to the fact that the stellar mass loss rate will affect the density of the circumstellar environment, which will in turn affect the collisional excitation of the line. We present the results of a study examining the dependence of the strength of the 557 GHz line of water vapor on the stellar mass loss rate, for a variety of assumed water mass loss rates.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: saavik@pha.jhu.edu

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