The highly dynamic behavior of the innermost dust and gas in the transition disk variable LRLL 31

K. M. Flaherty, J. Muzerolle, G. Rieke, R. Gutermuth, Z. Balog, W. Herbst, S. T. Megeath, M. Kun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

We describe extensive synoptic multi-wavelength observations of the transition disk LRLL 31 in the young cluster IC 348. We combined 4 epochs of IRS spectra, 9 epochs of MIPS photometry, 7 epochs of cold-mission IRAC photometry, and 36 epochs of warm-mission IRAC photometry along with multi-epoch near-infrared spectra, optical spectra, and polarimetry to explore the nature of the rapid variability of this object. We find that the inner disk, as traced by the 2-5 μm excess, stays at the dust sublimation radius while the strength of the excess changes by a factor of eight on weekly timescales, and the 3.6 and 4.5 μm photometry show a drop of 0.35 mag in 1week followed by a slow 0.5 mag increase over the next 3 weeks. The accretion rate, as measured by Paβ and Brγ emission lines, varies by a factor of five with evidence for a correlation between the accretion rate and the infrared excess. While the gas and dust in the inner disk are fluctuating, the central star stays relatively static. Our observations allow us to put constraints on the physical mechanism responsible for the variability. The variable accretion, and wind, are unlikely to be causes of the variability, but are both effects of the same physical process that disturbs the disk. The lack of periodicity in our infrared monitoring indicates that it is unlikely that there is a companion within ∼0.4 AU that is perturbing the disk. The most likely explanation is either a companion beyond ∼0.4 AU or a dynamic interface between the stellar magnetic field and the disk leading to a variable scale height and/or warping of the inner disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume732
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 10 2011

Keywords

  • protoplanetary disks
  • stars: formation
  • stars: pre-main sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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