Back to “normal” for the disintegrating planet candidate KIC 12557548 B

Everett Schlawin, Teruyuki Hirano, Hajima Kawahara, Johanna Teske, Elizabeth M. Green, Benjamin V. Rackham, Jonathan Fraine, Rafia Bushra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


KIC 12557548 b is the first of a growing class of intriguing disintegrating planet candidates, which lose mass in the form of a metal-rich vapor that condenses into dust particles. Here, we follow up on two perplexing observations of the system: (1) the transits appeared shallower than average in 2013 and 2014, and (2) the parameters derived from a high-resolution spectrum of the star differed from other results using photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy. We observe five transits of the system with the 61-inch Kuiper telescope in 2016 and show that they are consistent with photometry from the Kepler spacecraft in 2009-2013, suggesting that the dusty tail has returned to normal length and mass. We also evaluate high-resolution archival spectra from the Subaru HDS spectrograph and find them to be consistent with a main-sequence T eff = 4440 ± 70 K star in agreement with the photometry and low-resolution spectroscopy. This disfavors the hypothesis that planet disintegration affected the analysis of prior high-resolution spectra of this star. We apply Principal Component Analysis to the Kepler long-cadence data to understand the modes of disintegration. There is a tentative 491-day periodicity of the second principal component, which corresponds to possible long-term evolution of the dust grain sizes, though the mechanism on such long timescales remains unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number281
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Comets: general
  • Eclipses
  • Planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability
  • Stars: fundamental parameters
  • Stars: individual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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