Chemical composition of the circumstellar disk around AB Aurigae

S. Pacheco-Vázquez, A. Fuente, M. Agúndez, C. Pinte, T. Alonso-Albi, R. Neri, J. Cernicharo, J. R. Goicoechea, O. Berné, L. Wiesenfeld, R. Bachiller, B. Lefloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. Our goal is to determine the molecular composition of the circumstellar disk around AB Aurigae (hereafter, AB Aur). AB Aur is a prototypical Herbig Ae star and the understanding of its disk chemistry is paramount for understanding the chemical evolution of the gas in warm disks. Methods. We used the IRAM 30-m telescope to perform a sensitive search for molecular lines in AB Aur as part of the IRAM Large program ASAI (a chemical survey of Sun-like star-forming regions). These data were complemented with interferometric observations of the HCO+ 1→0 and C17O 1→0 lines using the IRAM Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI). Single-dish and interferometric data were used to constrain chemical models. Results. Throughout the survey, several lines of CO and its isotopologues, HCO+, H2CO, HCN, CN, and CS, were detected. In addition, we detected the SO 54→33 and 56→45 lines, confirming the previously tentative detection. Compared to other T Tauri and Herbig Ae disks, AB Aur presents low HCN 3→2/HCO+ 3→2 and CN 2→1/HCN 3→2 line intensity ratios, similar to other transition disks. AB Aur is the only protoplanetary disk detected in SO thus far, and its detection is consistent with interpretation of this disk being younger than those associated with T Tauri stars. Conclusions. We modeled the line profiles using a chemical model and a radiative transfer 3D code. Our model assumes a flared disk in hydrostatic equilibrium. The best agreement with observations was obtained for a disk with a mass of 0.01 M, Rin = 110 AU, Rout = 550 AU, a surface density radial index of 1.5, and an inclination of 27°. The intensities and line profiles were reproduced within a factor of ∼2 for most lines. This agreement is reasonable considering the simplicity of our model that neglects any structure within the disk. However, the HCN 3→2 and CN 2→1 line intensities were predicted to be more intense by a factor of >10. We discuss several scenarios to explain this discrepancy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA81
Number of pages14
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: individual: AB Aurigae
  • Stars: pre-main sequence
  • Stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be

Cite this