M.E. van den Ancker
R. van Boekel
A. de Koter
- A mid-IR study of the circumstellar environment of Herbig Be stars
- Astronomy & Astrophysics
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy (API)
Context. The study of the formation of massive stars is complicated because of the short times scales, large distances, and obscuring natal clouds. There are observational and theoretical indications that the circumstellar environment of Herbig Be (HBe) stars is substantially different from that of their lower mass counterparts, the T Tauri and Herbig Ae stars.
Aims. We map the spatial distribution and mineralogy of the warm circumstellar dust of a sample of HBe stars. We compare our results to a sample of less massive Herbig Ae stars.
Methods. We used literature photometry to obtain optical extinctions and stellar parameters of the targets. We obtained N-band imaging and long-slit spectroscopic data with the VISIR instrument at the VLT and we analyzed these data. We performed photometry of the images and extracted spatial information. We corrected the spectra for extinction and performed mineralogical fits. We fitted Gaussian profiles to characterize the spatial extent of the spectra along the VISIR slit.
Results. We find that the mid-infrared (IR) emission of the HBe stars is typically characterized by a circumstellar disk that efficiently reprocesses a substantial portion of the stellar flux. The mid-IR flux levels, the spatial compactness, and the dust composition are quite similar to those of the Herbig Ae stars. We find upper limits to the full-width-at-half-maximum (FWHM) size of the mid-IR emission of ~500 AU. The main differences with the lower mass stars are the lower overall IR excess with a greater variety in shapes, the weaker PAH reprocessing power, and the lack of a silica-forsterite relation. The discrepancies between VISIR and IRAS photometry, the far-IR contributions and the large PAH sizes of HBe stars are attributed to natal clouds.
Conclusions. Our results suggest that the Herbig Be disks are flatter than those around lower mass stars and they are likely truncated from the outside by photoevaporation.
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