The inner radius of T Tauri disks estimated from near-infrared interferometry: The importance of scattered light

C. Pinte, F. Ménard, J. P. Berger, M. Benisty, F. Malbet

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For young Herbig AeBe stars, near-infrared interferometric measurements have revealed a correlation between the luminosity of the central object and the position of the disk inner rim. This correlation breaks down for the cooler T Tauri stars, a fact often interpreted in terms of disks with larger inner radii. In most cases, the conversion between the observed interferometric visibility and the calculated disk inner radius was done with a crude disk emission model. Here we examine how the use of models that neglect scattered light can lead to an overestimation of the disk sizes. To do so, synthetic disk images (and visibilities) are calculated with a full treatment of the radiative transfer. The relative contributions of thermal emission and scattered light are compared. We find that the latter cannot be neglected for cool stars. For further comparison, the model visibilities are also converted into inner disk radii using the same simple disk models as found in the literature. We find that reliable inner radii can only be estimated for Herbig Ae/Be stars with these models. However, they lead to a systematic overestimation of the disk size, by a factor of 2-3, for T Tauri stars. We suggest that including scattered light in the models is a simple (and sufficient) explanation of the current interferometric measurements of T Tauri stars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L63-L66
Number of pages4
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks
  • Radiative transfer
  • Scattering
  • Techniques: interferometric

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