PROBING FOR EXOPLANETS HIDING IN DUSTY DEBRIS DISKS: DISK IMAGING, CHARACTERIZATION, AND EXPLORATION WITHHST/STIS MULTI-ROLL CORONAGRAPHY
Spatially resolved scattered-light images of circumstellar (CS) debris in exoplanetary systems constrain the physical properties and orbits of the dust particles in these systems. They also inform on co-orbiting (but unseen) planets, systemic architectures, and forces perturbing starlight-scattering CS material. Using HST/STIS optical coronagraphy, we have completed the observational phase of a program to study the spatial distribution of dust in ten CS debris systems, and one "mature"
... e "mature" protoplanetrary disk all with HST pedigree, using PSF-subtracted multi-roll coronagraphy. These observations probe stellocentric distances > 5 AU for the nearest stars, and simultaneously resolve disk substructures well beyond, corresponding to the giant planet and Kuiper belt regions in our Solar System. They also disclose diffuse very low-surface brightness dust at larger stellocentric distances. We present new results inclusive of fainter disks such as HD92945 confirming, and better revealing, the existence of a narrow inner debris ring within a larger diffuse dust disk. Other disks with ring-like sub-structures, significant asymmetries and complex morphologies include: HD181327 with a posited spray of ejecta from a recent massive collision in an exo-Kuiper belt; HD61005 suggested interacting with the local ISM; HD15115 & HD32297, discussed also in the context of environmental interactions. These disks, and HD15745, suggest debris system evolution cannot be treated in isolation. For AU Mic's edge-on disk, out-of-plane surface brightness asymmetries at > 5 AU may implicate one or more planetary perturbers. Time resolved images of the MP Mus proto-planetary disk provide spatially resolved temporal variability in the disk illumination. These and other new images from our program enable direct inter-comparison of the architectures of these exoplanetary debris systems in the context of our own Solar System.