Context: Low-mass stars form with disks in which the coagulation of grains may eventually lead to the formation of planets. It is not known when and where grain growth occurs, as models that explain the observations are often degenerate. A way to break this degeneracy is to resolve the sources under study.
Aims: Our aim is to find evidence for the existence of grains of millimetre sizes in disks around T Tauri stars, implying grain growth.
Methods: The Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) was used to observe 15 southern T Tauri stars, five in the constellation Lupus and ten in Chamaeleon, at 3.3 mm. The five Lupus sources were also observed with the SubMillimeter Array (SMA) at 1.4 mm. Our new data are complemented with data from the literature to determine the slopes of the spectral energy distributions in the millimetre regime.
Results: Ten sources were detected at better than 3σ with the ATCA, with σ ≈ 1-2 mJy, and all sources that were observed with the SMA were detected at better than 15σ, with σ ≈ 4 mJy. Six of the sources in our sample are resolved to physical radii of ~100 AU. Assuming that the emission from such large disks is predominantly optically thin, the millimetre slope can be related directly to the opacity index. For the other sources, the opacity indices are lower limits. Four out of six resolved sources have opacity indices ⪉1, indicating grain growth to millimetre sizes and larger. The masses of the disks range from <0.01 to 0.08 M_⊙, which is comparable to the minimum mass solar nebula. A tentative correlation is found between the millimetre slope and the strength and shape of the 10-μm silicate feature, indicating that grain growth occurs on similar (short) timescales in both the inner and outer disk.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- January 2007
- circumstellar matter;
- planetary systems: protoplanetary disks;
- stars: pre-main-sequence;
- 13 pages, 7 figures, 5 tables, accepted for publication in A&