Observational constraints on the stellar radiation field impinging on transitional disk atmospheres.
SZULAGYI J., PASCUCCI I., ABRAHAM P., APAI D., BOUWMAN J. and MOOR A.
Abstract (from CDS):
Mid-infrared atomic and ionic line ratios measured in spectra of pre-main-sequence stars are sensitive indicators of the hardness of the radiation field impinging on the disk surface. We present a low-resolution Spitzer IRS search for [Ar II] at 6.98 µm, [Ne II] at 12.81 µm, and [Ne III] 15.55 µm lines in 56 transitional disks. These objects, characterized by reduced near-infrared but strong far-infrared excess emission, are ideal targets to set constraints on the stellar radiation field onto the disk, because their spectra are not contaminated by shock emission from jets/outflows or by molecular emission lines. After demonstrating that we can detect [Ne II] lines and recover their fluxes from the low-resolution spectra, here we report the first detections of [Ar II] lines toward protoplanetary disks. We did not detect [Ne III] emission in any of our sources. Our [Ne II]/[Ne III] line flux ratios combined with literature data suggest that a soft-EUV or X-ray spectrum produces these gas lines. Furthermore, the [Ar II]/[Ne II] line flux ratios point to a soft X-ray and/or soft-EUV stellar spectrum as the ionization source of the [Ar II] and [Ne II] emitting layer of the disk. If the soft X-ray component dominates over the EUV, then we would expect larger photoevaporation rates and, hence, a reduction of the time available to form planets.