The debris disc of solar analogue tau Ceti: Herschel observations and dynamical simulations of the proposed multiplanet system

S. M. Lawler*, J. Di Francesco, G. M. Kennedy, B. Sibthorpe, M. Booth, B. Vandenbussche, B. C. Matthews, W. S. Holland, J. Greaves, D. J. Wilner, M. Tuomi, J. A. D. L. Blommaert, B. L. de Vries, C. Dominik, M. Fridlund, W. Gear, A. M. Heras, R. Ivison, G. Olofsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


tau Ceti is a nearby, mature G-type star very similar to our Sun, with a massive Kuiper Belt analogue and possible multiplanet system that has been compared to our Solar system. We present Herschel Space Observatory images of the debris disc, finding the disc is resolved at 70 mu m and 160 mu m, and marginally resolved at 250 mu m. The Herschel images and infrared photometry from the literature are best modelled using a wide dust annulus with an inner edge between 1 and 10 au and an outer edge at similar to 55 au, inclined from face-on by 35 degrees +/- 10 degrees, and with no significant azimuthal structure. We model the proposed tightly packed planetary system of five super-Earths and find that the innermost dynamically stable disc orbits are consistent with the inner edge found by the observations. The photometric modelling, however, cannot rule out a disc inner edge as close to the star as 1 au, though larger distances produce a better fit to the data. Dynamical modelling shows that the five-planet system is stable with the addition of a Neptune or smaller mass planet on an orbit outside 5 au, where the radial velocity data analysis would not have detected a planet of this mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2665-2675
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date12 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability
  • planet-disc
  • interactions
  • circumstellar matter
  • stars: individual: tau Ceti
  • Main-sequence stars
  • Low-mass planets
  • All-sky survey
  • Beta-pictoris
  • HR 8799
  • Spire instrument
  • Dust content
  • Alignment
  • Emission
  • Rotation


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