Letter to the Editor
Testing the theory of grain growth and fragmentation by millimeter observations of protoplanetary disks
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 Osservatorio Astrofsico di Arcetri, INAF, Largo E. Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy
4 Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94249, 1090 GE Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5 Afdeling Sterrenkunde, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Postbus 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands
Accepted: 4 June 2010
Context. Observations at sub-millimeter and mm wavelengths will in the near future be able to resolve the radial dependence of the mm spectral slope in circumstellar disks with a resolution of around a few AU at the distance of the closest star-forming regions.
Aims. We aim to constrain physical models of grain growth and fragmentation by a large sample of (sub-)mm observations of disks around pre-main sequence stars in the Taurus-Auriga and Ophiuchus star-forming regions.
Methods. State-of-the-art coagulation/fragmentation and disk-structure codes are coupled to produce steady-state grain size distributions and to predict the spectral slopes at (sub-)mm wavelengths.
Results. This work presents the first calculations predicting the mm spectral slope based on a physical model of grain growth. Our models can quite naturally reproduce the observed mm-slopes, but a simultaneous match to the observed range of flux levels can only be reached by a reduction of the dust mass by a factor of a few up to about 30 while keeping the gas mass of the disk the same. This dust reduction can either be caused by radial drift at a reduced rate or during an earlier evolutionary time (otherwise the predicted fluxes would become too low) or due to efficient conversion of dust into larger, unseen bodies.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / circumstellar matter / stars: pre-main-sequence / protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: formation / submillimeter: stars
© ESO, 2010