NICMOS coronagraphic observations of the GM Aurigae circumstellar disk

G. Schneider, K. Wood, M. D. Silverstone, D. C. Hines, D. W. Koerner, B. A. Whitney, J. E. Bjorkman, P. J. Lowrance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


We present Hubble Space Telescope Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) coronagraphic observations of the environment in the region of the young star-disk system GM Aurigae. Scattered near-infrared light in two spectral bands (F110W = 1.1 μm and F160W = 1.6 μm) trace the morphology of circumstellar dust to a distance of ∼700 AU from the star. An ∼300 AU radius outwardly flared disk inclined 50°-55° to the plane of the sky surrounded by a tenuous envelope is seen in the NICMOS images, confirming the size and suspected flared nature of the disk suggested by earlier CO and optical observations. The NICMOS images probe the disk region with spatial resolutions of ∼0″.1 at radial distances of (0″.35 to ∼4″.5-5″.0 from the largely unobscured (Av < 0.5) central star. The midplane of the disk 1″.3 from GM Aurigae is revealed in silhouette against the previously unseen "lower" portion of the illuminated disk along its minor axis (as projected onto the sky). We comment on surface brightness profiles along the disk major and minor axes, as well as isophotal maps of the disk. From these photometric data we have measured the integrated flux density of the disk, beyond the instrumental inner radius of 0″.35, as 8.0 and 9.3 mJy (±20%) at F110W and F160W, respectively, corresponding to disk scattering fractions of L disk/L* = 0.025 (±20%) in both bands. By fitting the photometric properties of the disk to a scattered-light model, we estimate the disk mass to be ∼0.04 M. Additionally, we find two diffuse red polar lobes along the disk minor axis, likely the result of a bipolar outflow, at distances of ±3″.8 from GM Aurigae (∼900 AU with our inferred inclination) with peak H-band surface brightnesses of ∼14 μJy arcsec -2. We also note the existence of a broad (∼3″ wide) band of blue material within the NICMOS field of view, spatially coincident with and extending at least 12″ from the northeast outer region of the disk major axis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1467-1479
Number of pages13
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3 1767
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Stars: individual (GM Aurigae)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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