AU Microscopii (hereinafter referred to as AU Mic) is a star located in the southern constellation Microscopium about 32.3 light-years (9.79 Parsecs) away from our solar system. AU Mic is a young red dwarf star that is classified as an M1 Ve. Its apparent magnitude is 8.7 and its temperature is 3730 K. It is a small star, at only 60% the radius of our sun, and it radiates only 9% of our sun’s light.

The most interesting thing about AU Mic is the debris disk found around it, which is circumstellar disk of dust that orbits the star. This disk was found and then confirmed in 2003 by Paul Kalas and collaborators using the University of Hawaii 2.2-m telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The disk was detected from about 35 to 210 astronomical units from the star, a region where dust lifetimes exceed the present stellar age. The total amount of dust that makes up the disk is thought to be at least 6 lunar masses.

Within the debris disk, a planet was recently discovered. AU Mic b orbits its host star in about 8.46 days at a distance of 0.07 astronomical units. It has a radius 0.4 of Jupiter and a mass of about 0.18 of Jupiter. The fact that a planet exists within the debris disk offers scientists a chance to study planet formation and evolution.

(Ling Cassandra)

Imaginary Picture of AU Mic b (Ryusuke Kuroki, Yosuke A. Yamashiki)
Size of AU Mic & AU Mic b in comparison with our Solar System
Habitable zone calculated based on Kopparapu et al.(2013) around the star AU Mic

For more information on AU Mic, please visit the ExoKyoto database:

http://www.exoplanetkyoto.org/exohtml/AU_Mic_b.html