Disc Emission via a Bias-free Reconnaissance in the Infrared/Submillimetre
An Open Time Key Project for Herschel


Debris Disks

The Team

The Proposal


Welcome to the Public Page for DEBRIS!

DEBRIS is one of four key projects to observe circumstellar discs with the Herschel Space Observatory, launched on 14 May, 2009. The main goal of DEBRIS is to detect and characterize dusty debris discs around nearby main sequence stars. The survey targets almost 450 stars in order to understand statistically how many stars harbour debris discs.

DEBRIS is driven by 100 micron (far-infrared) observations toward each target with the PACS instrument aboard Herschel. For the nearest stars, our integration time is sufficient to detect discs with dust content comparable to the dust mass of the Kuiper Belt of comets around the Sun. DEBRIS is a flux-limited survey, meaning that we will integrate for the same amount of time for each target. This means that our mass sensitivity decreases for targets of increasing distance from the Sun. We will obtain 160 micron data simultaneously with our 100 micron observations. When strong discs are detected, we will follow-up with longer wavelength observations using the SPIRE instrument, which observes at 250, 350 and 500 microns. The multi-wavelength data will enable us to establish the spectral energy distribution for each disc, from which temperature and radius can be calculated.

Herschel's 3.5 meter mirror is the largest solid mirror launched into space to date. Its large mirror provides adequate resolution (7'' on the sky at 100 micron) to resolve a typically sized debris disc (200 AU radius) at the distance of our furthest target (45 pc, or about 140 lightyears).

DEBRIS is an international collaboration of over 30 researchers from Canada, the U.S.A., the U.K., Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Chile.

Questions or Comments? Please contact us here

Webpage design: Alice Koning & John Tuytel