EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 508, Number 2, December III 2009
Page(s) 787 - 803
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200912990
Published online 04 November 2009
A&A 508, 787-803 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200912990

Revealing the sub-AU asymmetries of the inner dust rim in the disk around the Herbig Ae star R Coronae Austrinae

S. Kraus1, K.-H. Hofmann1, F. Malbet2, A. Meilland3, 1, A. Natta4, D. Schertl1, P. Stee3, and G. Weigelt1

1  Max Planck Institut für Radioastronomie, Auf dem Hügel 69, 53121 Bonn, Germany
    e-mail: skraus@mpifr-bonn.mpg.de
2  Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Grenoble, UMR 5571 Université Joseph Fourier/CNRS, BP 53, 38041 Grenoble Cedex 9, France
3  UMR 6525 H. Fizeau, Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis, CNRS, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, Av. Copernic, 06130 Grasse, France
4  INAF – Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo Fermi 5, 50125 Firenze, Italy

Received 26 July 2009 / Accepted 28 October 2009

Context. Unveiling the structure of the disks around intermediate-mass pre-main-sequence stars (Herbig Ae/Be stars) is essential for our understanding of the star and planet formation process. In particular, models predict that in the innermost AU around the star, the dust disk forms a “puffed-up” inner rim, which should result in a strongly asymmetric brightness distribution for disks seen under intermediate inclination.
Aims. Our aim is to constrain the sub-AU geometry of the inner disk around the Herbig Ae star R CrA and search for the predicted asymmetries.
Methods. Using the VLTI/AMBER long-baseline interferometer, we obtained 24 near-infrared (H- and K-band) spectro-interferometric observations on R CrA. Observing with three telescopes in a linear array configuration, each data set samples three equally spaced points in the visibility function, providing direct information about the radial intensity profile. In addition, the observations cover a wide position angle range (~97°), also probing the position angle dependence of the source brightness distribution.
Results. In the derived visibility function, we detect the signatures of an extended (Gaussian FWHM ~ 25 mas) and a compact component (Gaussian FWHM ~ 5.8 mas), with the compact component contributing about two-thirds of the total flux (both in H- and K-band). The brightness distribution is highly asymmetric, as indicated by the strong closure phases (up to ~40°) and the detected position angle dependence of the visibilities and closure phases. To interpret these asymmetries, we employ various geometric as well as physical models, including a binary model, a skewed ring model, and a puffed-up inner rim model with a vertical or curved rim shape. For the binary and vertical rim model, no acceptable fits could be obtained. On the other hand, the skewed ring model and the curved puffed-up inner rim model allow us to simultaneously reproduce the measured visibilities and closure phases. From these models we derive the location of the dust sublimation radius (~0.4 AU), the disk inclination angle (~35°), and a north-south disk orientation (PA ~ 180-190°). Our curved puffed-up rim model can reproduce reasonably well the interferometric observables and the SED and suggests a luminosity of ~29 $L_{\odot}$ and the presence of relatively large ($\ga$1.2 $\mu$m) Silicate dust grains. Our study also reveals discrepancies between the measured interferometric observables and the puffed-up inner rim models, providing important constraints for future refinements of these theoretical models. Perpendicular to the disk, two bow shock-like structures appear in the associated reflection nebula NGC 6729, suggesting that the detected sub-AU size disk is the driving engine of a large-scale outflow.
Conclusions. Detecting, for the first time, strong non-localized asymmetries in the inner regions of a Herbig Ae disk, our study supports the existence of a puffed-up inner rim in YSO disks.

Key words: stars: pre-main-sequence -- circumstellar matter -- accretion, accretion disks -- planetary systems: protoplanetary disks -- planetary systems: formation -- techniques: interferometric

© ESO 2009