Circumstellar disks around Herbig Be stars

Research paper by T. Alonso-Albi, A. Fuente, R. Bachiller, R. Neri, P. Planesas, L. Testi, O. Berne, C. Joblin

Indexed on: 11 Feb '09Published on: 11 Feb '09Published in: Astrophysics


We completed a search for circumstellar disks around Herbig Be stars using the NRAO Very Large Array (VLA) and the IRAM Plateau de Bure (PdB) interferometers. We present our new VLA and PdBI data for the three objects MWC 297, Z CMa, and LKHa 215. We constructed the SED from near-IR to centimeter wavelengths by adding our millimeter and centimeter data to the available data at other wavelengths, mainly Spitzer images. The entire SED was fitted using a disk+envelope model. In addition, we compiled all the disk millimeter observations in the literature and completed a statistical analysis of all the data. We show that the disk mass is usually only a small percentage (less than 10%) of the mass of the entire envelope in HBe stars. For the disks, there are large source-to-source variations. Two disks in our sample, R Mon and Z CMa, have similar sizes and masses to those found in T Tauri and Herbig Ae stars. The disks around MWC 1080 and MWC 297 are, however, smaller (rout<100 AU). We did not detect the disks towards MWC 137 and LkHa 215 at millimeter wavelengths, which limits the mass and the size of the possible circumstellar disks. A comparison between our data and previous results for T Tauri and Herbig Ae stars indicates that although massive disks (0.1 Msun) are found in young objects (10^4 yr), the masses of the disks around Herbig Be stars are usually 5-10 times lower than those around lower mass stars. We propose that disk photoevaporation is responsible for this behavior. In Herbig Be stars, the UV radiation disperses the gas in the outer disk on a timescale of a few 10^5 yr. Once the outer part of the disk has vanished, the entire gaseous disk is photoevaporated on a very short timescale (10^5 yr) and only a small, dusty disk consisting of large grains remains.