Time-variability and disk geometry in Herbig Ae/Be disks

The origin of optical-infrared variability in young, intermediate mass Herbig Ae/Be stars is linked to their circumstellar disk. Therefore, variability could serve as a diagnostic tool to constrain the structure and dynamics of the (inner) disk. Here we discuss this diagnostic potential, and report some preliminary results from our coordinated BV RIJHKs and Spitzer monitoring observations of nine Herbig Ae stars. We aim to understand the response of the inner disks thermal emission on the changing stellar irradiation, and to separate it from UX Orionis-type fading events, which also provide information on the disk. This project is a pilot study for … Read more »

Disks around FUor-type young eruptive stars with ALMA

A long-standing problem of the general paradigm of low-mass star formation is the “luminosity problem”: protostars are less luminous than theoretically predicted. One possible solution is that the accretion process is episodic. FU Orionis-type stars (FUors) are thought to be the visible examples for objects in the high accretion state and it is still debated what physical mechanism triggers the phenomenon. For many of these objects their disk properties are still largely unknown so we conducted a deep, high spatial resolution (down to 20 au) ALMA Band 6 (1.3 mm) dust continuum survey of a sub-sample of known FUors. Here … Read more »

Chemical modeling of FU Ori protoplanetary disks

Luminosity outbursts of the FU Ori type stars, which have a magnitude of ~100 L☉ and last for decades, may affect chemical composition of the surrounding protoplanetary disk. Using astrochemical modelling we analyse the changes induced by the outburst and search for species sensitive to the luminosity rise. Some changes in the disk molecular composition appear not only during the outburst itself but can also retain for decades after the end of the outburst. We analyse main chemical processes responsible for these effects and assess timescales at which chemically inert species return to the pre-outburst abundances.

Global Protoplanetary Disk Simulations: Dead Zone Formation and FUor Outbursts

We conducted global hydrodynamic simulations of protoplanetary disk evolution with an adaptive Shakura-Sunyaev α prescription to represent the layered disk structure, and starting with the collapse phase of the molecular cloud. With the canonical values of model parameters, self-consistent dead zones formed at the scale of a few au. The instabilities associated with the dead zone and corresponding outbursts, similar to FUor eruptions, were also observed in the simulations.

Envelope-to-disk mass transport in the FUor-type young eruptive star V346 Normae

Having disk-to-star accretion rates on the order of 10-4 M☉/yr, FU Orionis-type stars (FUors) are thought to be the visible examples for episodic accretion. FUors are often surrounded by massive envelopes, which replenish the disk material and enable the disk to produce accretion outbursts. We observed the FUor-type star V346 Nor with ALMA at 1.3 mm continuum and in different CO rotational lines. We mapped the density and velocity structure of its envelope and analyzed the results using channel maps, position-velocity diagrams, and spectro-astrometric methods. We discovered a pseudo-disk and a Keplerian disk around a 0.1 M☉ central star. We determined an … Read more »

Spots, flares, accretion, and obscuration in the pre-main sequence binary DQ Tau

DQ Tau is a young low-mass spectroscopic binary, consisting of two almost equal-mass stars on a 15.8 day period surrounded by a circumbinary disk. We analyzed DQ Tau’s light curves obtained by Kepler K2, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based facilities. We observed variability phenomena, including rotational modulation by stellar spots, energetic stellar flares, brightening events around periastron due to increased accretion, and short dips due to temporary circumstellar obscuration. The study on DQ Tau will help in discovering and understanding the formation and evolution of other real-world examples of “Tatooine-like” systems. This is especially important because more and more … Read more »

Outbursts of young Sun-like stars may change how terrestrial planets form

While the Sun is nowadays a quiet and well-balanced star, in its first few million years it might have been often out of temper, like those young low-mass stars which episodically undergo unpredictable outbursts. The prototype of one of the two classes of young erupting stars, EX Lupi, had its historically largest outburst in 2008. It brightened by a factor of 30 for six months, due to elevated accretion from the circumstellar disk on to the star. Our group observed the system during the outburst, and discovered the crystallisation of amorphous silicate grains in the inner disk by the heat … Read more »

A mid-infrared interferometric survey of the planet-forming region around young Sun-like stars

We present our results from a mid-infrared interferometric survey targeted at the planet-forming region in the circumstellar disks around low- and intermediate-mass young stars. Our sample consists of 82 objects, including T Tauri stars, Herbig Ae stars, and young eruptive stars. Our main results are: 1) Disks around T Tauri stars are similar to those around Herbig Ae stars, but are relatively more extended once we account for stellar luminosity. 2) From the distribution of the sizes of the mid-infrared emitting region we find that inner dusty disk holes may be present in roughly half of the sample. 3) Our … Read more »

Episodic accretion in focus: revealing the environment of FU Orionis-type stars

The earliest phases of star formation are characterised by intense mass accretion from the circumstellar disk to the central star. One group of young stellar objects, the FU Orionis-type stars exhibit accretion rate peaks accompanied by bright eruptions. The occurance of these outbursts might solve the luminosity problem of protostars, play a key role in accumulating the final star mass, and have a significant effect on the parameters of the envelope and the disk. In the framework of the Structured Accretion Disks ERC project, we are conducting a systematic investigation of these sources with millimeter interferometry to examine whether they … Read more »

Variable Warm Dust around the Herbig Ae Star HD 169142: Birth of a Ring?

The Herbig Ae star HD 169142 is known to have a gaseous disk with a large inner hole, and also a photometrically variable inner dust component in the sub-astronomical-unit region. Following up on our previous analysis, we further studied the temporal evolution of inner dust around HD 169142, which may provide information on the evolution from late-stage protoplanetary disks to debris disks. We used near-infrared interferometric observations obtained with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer/PIONIER to constrain the dust distribution at three epochs spanning six years. We also studied the photometric variability of HD 169142 using our optical─infrared observations and archival … Read more »