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Keywords:

  • methods: numerical;
  • celestial: mechanics;
  • planets and satellites: general

ABSTRACT

Infrared spectra from the Spitzer Space Telescope (SSC) of many debris discs are well fit with a single blackbody temperature which suggest clearings within the disc. We assume that clearings are caused by orbital instability in multiple planet systems with similar configurations to our own. These planets remove dust-generating planetesimal belts as well as dust generated by the outer disc that is scattered or drifts into the clearing. From numerical integrations, we estimate a minimum planet spacing required for orbital instability (and so planetesimal and dust removal) as a function of system age and planet mass. We estimate that a 108 yr old debris disc with a dust disc edge at a radius of 50 au hosted by an A star must contain approximately five Neptune mass planets between the clearing radius and the iceline in order to remove all primordial objects within it. We infer that known debris disc systems contain at least a fifth of a Jupiter mass in massive planets. The number of planets and spacing required is insensitive to the assumed planet mass. However, an order of magnitude higher total mass in planets could reside in these systems if the planets are more massive.