Thursday, March 21, 2013

1303.4804 (Colette Salyk et al.)

Measuring Protoplanetary Disk Accretion with H I Pf-beta    [PDF]

Colette Salyk, Gregory J. Herczeg, Joanna M. Brown, Geoffrey A. Blake, Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Ewine F. van Dishoeck
In this work, we introduce the use of H I Pfund-beta (4.6538 micron) as a tracer of mass accretion from protoplanetary disks onto young stars. Pf-beta was serendipitously observed in NIRSPEC and CRIRES surveys of CO fundamental emission, amounting to a sample size of 120 young stars with detected Pf-beta emission. Using a subsample of disks with previously measured accretion luminosities, we show that Pf-beta line luminosity is well correlated with accretion luminosity over a range of at least three orders of magnitude. We use this correlation to derive accretion luminosities for all 120 targets, 65 of which are previously unreported in the literature. We also report accretion rates for 67 targets, 16 previously unmeasured. Our large sample size and our ability to probe high extinction values allow for relatively unbiased comparisons between different types of disks. We find that the transitional disks in our sample have lower than average Pf-beta line luminosities, and thus accretion luminosities, at a marginally significant level. We also show that high Pf-beta equivalent width is a signature of transitional disks with high inner disk gas/dust ratios. In contrast, we find that disks with signatures of slow disk winds have Pf-beta luminosities comparable to those of other disks in our sample. Finally, we investigate accretion rates for stage I disks, including significantly embedded targets. We find that stage I and stage II disks have statistically indistinguishable Pf-beta line luminosities, implying similar accretion rates, and that the accretion rates of stage I disks are too low to be consistent with quiescent accretion. Our results are instead consistent with both observational and theoretical evidence that stage I objects experience episodic, rather than quiescent, accretion.
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