Observations of edge-on protoplanetary disks with ALMA: I. Results from continuum data

M. Villenave, F. Ménard, W. R.F. Dent, G. Duchêne, K. R. Stapelfeldt, M. Benisty, Y. Boehler, G. Van Der Plas, C. Pinte, Z. Telkamp, S. Wolff, C. Flores, G. Lesur, F. Louvet, A. Riols, C. Dougados, H. Williams, D. Padgett

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Aims. We aim to study vertical settling and radial drift of dust in protoplanetary disks from a different perspective: an edge-on view. An estimation of the amplitude of settling and drift is highly relevant to understanding planet formation. Methods. We analyze a sample of 12 HST-selected edge-on protoplanetary disks (i.e., seen with high inclinations) for which the vertical extent of the emission layers can be constrained directly.We present ALMA high angular resolution continuum images (0.100) of these disks at two wavelengths, 0.89 and 2.06mm (respectively ALMA bands 7 and 4), supplemented with archival band 6 data (1.33 mm) where available. Results. Several sources show constant brightness profiles along their major axis with a steep drop at the outer edges. Two disks have central holes with additional compact continuum emission at the location of the central star. For most sources, the millimeter continuum emission is more compact than the scattered light, both in the vertical and radial directions. Six sources are resolved along their minor axis in at least one millimetric band, providing direct information on the vertical distribution of the millimeter grains. For the second largest disk of the sample, Tau 042021, the significant difference in vertical extent between band 7 and band 4 suggests efficient size-selective vertical settling of large grains. Furthermore, the only Class I object in our sample shows evidence of flaring in the millimeter. Along the major axis, all disks are well resolved. Four of them are larger in band 7 than in band 4 in the radial direction, and three have a similar radial extent in all bands. These three disks are also the ones with the sharpest apparent edges (between 80% and 20% of the peak flux, r=r 0:3), and two of them are binaries. For all disks, we also derive the millimeter brightness temperature and spectral index maps. We find that all edge-on disks in our sample are likely optically thick and that the dust emission reveals low brightness temperatures in most cases (brightness temperatures 10 K). The integrated spectral indices are similar to those of disks at lower inclination. Conclusions. The comparison of a generic radiative transfer disk model with our data shows that at least three disks are consistent with a small millimeter dust scale height, of a few au (measured at r = 100 au). This is in contrast with the more classical value of hg 10 au derived from scattered light images and from gas line measurements. These results confirm, by direct observations, that large (millimeter) grains are subject to significant vertical settling in protoplanetary disks. copy; M. Villenave et al. 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA164
Number of pages22
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be

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