Low dust emissivities and radial variations in the envelopes of Class 0 protostars: a signature of early grain growth?
Analyzing the properties of dust and its evolution in the early phases of star formation is crucial to put constraints on the collapse and accretion processes as well as on the pristine properties of planet-forming seeds. We analyze PdBI observations at 1.3 and 3.2 mm for 12 Class 0 protostars obtained as part of the CALYPSO survey and derive dust emissivity index (beta) profiles as a function of the envelope radius at 200-2000 au scales. Most of the protostellar envelopes show low dust emissivity indices decreasing toward the central regions. The decreasing trend remains after correction of the (potentially optically-thick) central region emission, with surprisingly low beta (lower than 1) values across most of the envelope radii of NGC1333-IRAS4A, NGC1333-IRAS4B, SVS13B, and Serpens-SMM4. We discuss the various processes that could explain such low and varying dust emissivity indices at envelope radii 200-2000 au. Our observations of extremely low dust emissivity indices could trace the presence of large (mm-size) grains in Class 0 envelopes and a radial increase of the dust grain size toward the inner envelope regions. While it is expected that large grains in young protostellar envelopes could be built via grain growth and coagulation, we stress that the typical timescales required to build mm grains in current coagulation models are at odds with the youth of our Class 0 protostars. Additional variations in the dust composition could also partly contribute to the low beta we observe. The steepness of the beta radial gradient depends strongly on the envelope mass, which might favor a scenario where large grains are built in high density protostellar disks and transported to the intermediate envelope radii, for example with the help of outflows and winds.