Gas in the Terrestrial Planet Region of Disks: CO Fundamental Emission from T Tauri Stars
NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY OBSERVATORIES TUCSON AZ
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We report the results of a high-resolution spectroscopic survey for CO fundamental emission from T Tauri stars. CO fundamental emission is frequently detected, with the likely origin of the emission in the circumstellar disk. An initial assessment of the line profiles indicates that the emission region includes the equivalent of the terrestrial planet region of our solar system, a result that suggests the utility of CO fundamental emission as a probe of disks at planet formation distances. Since fundamental emission is detected frequently from both close binary and apparently single stars, it appears that both low column density regions, such as disk gaps, and temperature inversion regions in disk atmospheres can produce significant emission. The estimated excitation temperature of the emitting gas is unexpectedly warm for the disk radii that they appear to probe. Thus, the surface gaseous component of inner disks may be significantly warmer than the surface dust component. We also detect CO emission from a transitional T Tauri star. Because fundamental emission from CO and its isotopes is sensitive to a wide range of gas masses, CO fundamental emission may prove useful in measuring the residual gas content of dissipating disks. This may be an effective way to explore the gas dissipation timescale in inner disks and to thereby place constraints on the timescale for giant planet formation.