First Keck nulling observations of a young stellar object: Probing the circumstellar environment of the Herbig Ae star MWC 325

S. Ragland, K. Ohnaka, L. Hillenbrand, S. T. Ridgway, M. M. Colavita, R. L. Akeson, W. Cotton, W. C. Danchi, M. Hrynevich, R. Millan-Gabet, W. A. Traub

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15 Citations (Scopus)


We present the first N-band nulling plus K- and L-band V 2 observations of a young stellar object, MWC 325, taken with the 85 m baseline Keck Interferometer. The Keck nuller was designed for the study of faint dust signatures associated with debris disks, but it also has a unique capability for studying the temperature and density distribution of denser disks found around young stellar objects. Interferometric observations of MWC 325 at K, L, and N encompass a factor of five in spectral range and thus, especially when spectrally dispersed within each band, enable characterization of the structure of the inner disk regions where planets form. Fitting our observations with geometric models such as a uniform disk or a Gaussian disk show that the apparent size increases monotonically with wavelength in the 2-12 μm wavelength region, confirming the widely held assumption based on radiative transfer models, now with spatially resolved measurements over a broad wavelength range, that disks are extended with a temperature gradient. The effective size is a factor of about 1.4 and 2.2 larger in the L band and N band, respectively, compared to that in the K band. The existing interferometric measurements and the spectral energy distribution can be reproduced by a flat disk or a weakly shadowed nearly flat disk model, with only slight flaring in the outer regions of the disk, consisting of representative "sub- micron" (0.1 μm) and "micron" (2 μm) grains of a 50:50 ratio of silicate and graphite. This is in marked contrast to the disks previously found in other Herbig Ae/Be stars, suggesting a wide variety in the disk properties among Herbig Ae/Be stars.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • circumstellar matter
  • radiative transfer
  • stars: individual (MWC325)
  • stars: pre-main sequence
  • stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be
  • techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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