Herschel observations of the T Cha transition disk: Constraining the outer disk properties

Lucas A. Cieza, Johan Olofsson, Paul M. Harvey, Christophe Pinte, Bruno Merín, Jean Charles Augereau, Neal J. Evans, Joan Najita, Thomas Henning, Francois Ménard

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T Cha is a nearby (d ∼ 100pc) transition disk known to have an optically thin gap separating optically thick inner and outer disk components. Huélamo etal. recently reported the presence of a low-mass object candidate within the gap of the T Cha disk, giving credence to the suspected planetary origin of this gap. Here we present the Herschel photometry (70, 160, 250, 350, and 500 μm) of T Cha from the "Dust, Ice, and Gas in Time" Key Program, which bridges the wavelength range between existing Spitzer and millimeter data and provide important constraints on the outer disk properties of this extraordinary system. We model the entire optical to millimeter wavelength spectral energy distribution (SED) of T Cha (19 data points between 0.36 and 3300 μm without any major gaps in wavelength coverage). T Cha shows a steep spectral slope in the far-IR, which we find clearly favors models with outer disks containing little or no dust beyond ∼ 40AU. The full SED can be modeled equally well with either an outer disk that is very compact (only a few AU wide) or a much larger one that has a very steep surface density profile. That is, T Cha's outer disk seems to be either very small or very tenuous. Both scenarios suggest a highly unusual outer disk and have important but different implications for the nature of T Cha. Spatially resolved images are needed to distinguish between the two scenarios.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL25
Number of pages5
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • circumstellar matter
  • planetdisk interactions
  • protoplanetary disks
  • stars: individual (T Cha)
  • submillimeter: planetary systems

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