EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 495, Number 3, March I 2009
Page(s) 827 - 835
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200810559
Published online 14 January 2009
A&A 495, 827-835 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200810559

What can we learn about protoplanetary disks from analysis of mid-infrared carbonaceous dust emission?

O. Berné1, 2, C. Joblin1, 2, A. Fuente3, and F. Ménard4

1  Université de Toulouse; UPS; CESR; 9 av. colonel Roche, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 9, France
    e-mail: olivier.berne@cesr.fr
2  CNRS; UMR5187; 31028 Toulouse, France
3  Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, Aptdo. Correos 112, 28803 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain
4  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, Université Joseph-Fourier et CNRS-UMR 5571, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France

Received 10 July 2008 / Accepted 14 November 2008

Context. The disks of gas and dust that form around young stars and can lead to planet formation contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and very small grains (VSGs).
Aims. In this paper we analyze the mid-infrared (mid-IR) emission of these very small dust particles in a sample of 12 protoplanetary disks. Our goal is twofold: first we want to characterize the properties of these particles in disks and see how they are connected to interstellar matter, and second we investigate the possibility that their emission can be used as a probe of the physical conditions and evolution of the disk.
Methods. We define a basis made of three mid-IR template spectra: PAH0, PAH+, and VSGs that were derived from the analysis of reflection nebulae, and an additional PAHx spectrum that was introduced recently for analysis of the spectra of planetary nebulae.
Results. From the optimization of the fit of 12 star+disk spectra, using a linear combination of the 4 template spectra, we found that an additional small grain component with a broad feature at 8.3 $\mu$m is needed. We find that the fraction of VSG emission in disks decreases with increasing stellar temperature. VSGs appear to be destroyed by UV photons at the surface of disks, thus releasing free PAH molecules, which are eventually ionized as observed in photodissociation regions. In contrast, we observe that the fraction of PAHx increases with increasing star temperature except in the case of B stars where they are absent. We argue that this is compatible with the identification of PAHx as large ionized PAHs, most likely emitting in regions of the disk that are close to the star. Finally, we provide a UV-dependent scheme to explain the evolution of PAHs and VSGs in protoplanetary disks. 
These results allow us to put new constraints on the properties of two sources: IRS 48 and “Gomez's Hamburger” which are poorly characterized.
Conclusions. Very small dust particles incorporated into protoplanetary disks are processed while exposed to the intense radiation field of the central star. The resulting shape of the mid-IR spectrum can reveal this processing and be used as an efficient probe of the radiation field i.e. luminosity of central star.

Key words: astrochemistry -- ISM: dust, extinction -- ISM: lines and bands -- stars: planetary systems: protoplanetary disks -- infrared: stars -- methods: observational

© ESO 2009