The characteristics of the IR emission features in the spectra of Herbig Ae stars: evidence for chemical evolution
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV, Groningen, The Netherlands e-mail: email@example.com
2 Max-Planck Institut für Astronomie, Köningstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
3 Space Research Organisation Netherlands, PO Box 800, 9700 AV, Groningen, The Netherlands
4 Leiden Observatory, PO Box 9513, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands
5 Instituut voor Sterrenkunde, K. U. Leuven, Celestijnlaan 200B, 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
6 NASA Ames Research Center, MS 245-3, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
7 Astronomical Institute “Anton Pannekoek”, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 403, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Accepted: 18 March 2008
Context. Infrared (IR) spectra provide a prime tool to study the characteristics of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules in regions of star formation. Herbig Ae/Be stars are a class of young pre-main sequence stellar objects of intermediate mass. They are known to have varying amounts of natal cloud material still present in their direct vicinity.
Aims. We characterise the IR emission bands, due to fluorescence by PAH molecules, in the spectra of Herbig Ae/Be stars and link observed variations to spatial aspects of the mid-IR emission.
Methods. We analysed two PAH dominated spectra from a sample of 15 Herbig Ae/Be stars observed with the Spitzer Space Telescope.
Results. We derived profiles of the major PAH bands by subtracting appropriate continua. The shape and the measured band characteristics show pronounced variations between the two Spitzer spectra investigated. Those variations parallel those found between three infrared space observatory (ISO) spectra of other, well-studied, Herbig Ae/Be stars. The derived profiles are compared to those from a broad sample of sources, including reflection nebulae, planetary nebulae, regions, young stellar objects, evolved stars and galaxies. The Spitzer and ISO spectra exhibit characteristics commonly interpreted respectively as interstellar matter-like (ISM), non-ISM-like, or a combination of the two.
Conclusions. We argue that the PAH emission detected from the sources exhibiting a combination of ISM-like and non-ISM-like characteristics indicates the presence of two dissimilar, spatially separated, PAH families. As the shape of the individual PAH band profiles reflects the composition of the PAH molecules involved, this demonstrates that PAHs in subsequent, evolutionary linked stages of star formation are different from those in the general ISM, implying active chemistry. None of the detected PAH emission can be associated with the (unresolved) disk and is thus associated with the circumstellar (natal) cloud. This implies that chemical changes may already occur in the (collapsing?) natal cloud and not necessarily in the disk.
Key words: stars: planetary systems: formation / infrared: stars / line: profiles / ISM: molecules
© ESO, 2008