Accretion Rates in Herbig Ae stars

Research paper by R. Garcia Lopez, A. Natta, L. Testi, E. Habart

Indexed on: 01 Sep '06Published on: 01 Sep '06Published in: Astrophysics


Accretion rates from disks around pre-main sequence stars are of importance for our understanding of planetary formation and disk evolution. We provide in this paper estimates of the mass accretion rates in the disks around a large sample of Herbig Ae stars. We obtained medium resolution 2 micron spectra and used the results to compute values of Macc from the measured luminosity of the Br_gamma emission line, using a well established correlation between L(Br_gamma) and the accretion luminosity Lacc. We find that 80% of the stars, all of which have evidence of an associated circumstellar disk, are accreting matter, with rates 3x10^{-9} < Macc} < 10^{-6} Msun/yr; for 7 objects, 6 of which are located on the ZAMS in the HR diagram, we do not detect any line emission. Few HAe stars (25%) have Macc>10^{-7} Msun/yr. In most HAe stars the accretion rate is sufficiently low that the gas in the inner disk, inside the dust evaporation radius, is optically thin and does not prevent the formation of a puffed-up rim, where dust is directly exposed to the stellar radiation. When compared to the Macc values found for lower-mass stars in the star forming regions Taurus and Ophiuchus, HAe stars have on average higher accretion rates than solar-mass stars; however, there is a lack of very strong accretors among them, probably due to the fact that they are on average older.