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Abstract: In 1981, Beta Pictoris showed strong and rapid photometric variations thatwere attributed to the transit of a giant comet or a planet orbiting at severalAUs Lecavelier des Etangs et al. 1994, 1995, 1997; Lamers et al. 1997.Recently, a candidate planet has been identified by imagery in thecircumstellar disk of Beta Pictoris Lagrange et al. 2009. This planet, namedBeta Pic b, is observed at a projected distance of 8AU from the central star.It is therefore a plausible candidate for the photometric event observed in1981. The coincidence of the observed position of the planet in November 2003and the calculated position assuming that the 1981 transit is due to a planetorbiting at 8 AU is intriguing. Assuming that the planet that is detected onthe image is the same as the object transiting in November 1981, we estimateranges of possible orbital distances and periods. In the favored scenario, theplanet orbits at about 8 AU and was seen close to its quadrature position inthe 2003 images. In this case, most of the uncertainties are related to errorbars on the position in 2003. Uncertainties related to the stellar mass andorbital eccentricity are also discussed. We find a semi-major axis in the range7.6-8.7 AU and an orbital period in the range 15.9-19.5 years. We givepredictions for imaging observations at quadrature in the southwest branch ofthe disk in future years 2011-2015. We also estimate possible dates for thenext transits and anti-transits.

Autor: A. Lecavelier des Etangs, A. Vidal-Madjar


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