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Mid-IR Spectra Herbig Ae/Be StarsHerbig Ae/Be stars are intermediate mass pre-main sequence stars, the higher mass analogues to the T Tauri stars. Because of their higher mass, they are expected form more rapidly than the T Tauri stars. Whether the Herbig Ae/Be stars accrete only from collapsing infalling envelopes or whether accrete through geometrically flattened viscous accretion disks is of current debate. When the Herbig Ae/Be stars reach the main sequence they form a class called Vega-like stars which are known from their IR excesses to have debris disks, such as the famous beta Pictoris. The evolutionary scenario between the pre-main sequence Herbig Ae/Be stars and the main sequence Vega-like stars is not yet revealed and it bears on the possibility of the presence of Habitable Zone planets around the A stars. Photometric studies of Herbig Ae/Be stars have revealed that most are variable in the optical, and a subset of stars show non-periodic drops of about 2 magnitudes. These drops in visible light are accompanied by changes in their colors: at first the starlight becomes reddened, and then it becomes bluer, the polarization goes from less than 0.1 % to roughly 1% during these minima. The theory postulated by V. Grinnin is that large cometary bodies on highly eccentric orbits occult the star on their way to being sublimed, for systems that are viewed edge-on. This theory is one of several controversial theories about the nature of Herbig Ae/Be stars. A 5 year mid-IR spectrophotometric monitoring campaign was begun by Wooden and Butner in 1992 to look for correlations between the variations in visible photometry and mid-IR dust emission features. Generally the approximately 20 stars that have been observed by the NASA Ames HIFOGS spectrometer have been steady at 10 microns. There are a handful, however, that have shown variable mid-IR spectra, with 2 showing variations in both the continuum and features anti-correlated with visual photometry, and 3 showing variations in the emission features only while the continuum level remained unchanged. The first 2 stars mentioned probably have reprocessing envelopes. The other 3 stars gives important clues to the controversy over the geometry of the gas and dust around these pre-main sequence stars: the steady underlying 10 microns continuum and variable features indicates that an optically thick continuum probably arising from an accretion disk is decoupled from the optically thin emission features which may arise in a disk atmosphere. Bernadette Rodgers has joined this monitoring campaign in the near-IR using GRIMII with the goal of detecting variations in the hot dust continuum and the gas density in the dense accretion region close to these stars.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Wooden, Diane
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Witteborn, Fred C.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1997
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 188-44-21-23
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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