Quiescent H2 emission from pre-main-sequence stars in chamaeleon I

Jeffrey S. Bary, David A. Weintraub, Sonali J. Shukla, Jarron M. Leisenring, Joel H. Kastner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We report the discovery of quiescent emission from molecular hydrogen gas located in the circumstellar disks of six pre-main-sequence stars, including two weak-line T Tauri stars (TTSs) and one Herbig AeBe star, in the Chamaeleon I star-forming region. For two of these stars, we also place upper limits on the 2 → 1 S(1)/1 → 0 S(1) line ratios of ∼0.4 and 0.5. Of the 11 pre-main-sequence sources now known to be sources of quiescent near-infrared hydrogen emission, four possess transitional disks, which suggests that detectable levels of H2 emission and the presence of inner disk holes are correlated. These H2 detections demonstrate that these inner holes are not completely devoid of gas, in agreement with the presence of observable accretion signatures for all four of these stars and the recent detections of [Ne II] emission from three of them. The overlap in [Ne II] and H2 detections hints at a possible correlation between these two features and suggests a shared excitation mechanism of high-energy photons. Our models, combined with the kinematic information from the H2 lines, locate the bulk of the emitting gas at a few tens of AU from the stars. We also find a correlation between H2 detections and those targets which possess the largest Ha equivalent widths, suggesting a link between accretion activity and quiescent H2 emission. We conclude that quiescent H 2 emission from relatively hot gas within the disks of TTSs is most likely related to ongoing accretion activity, the production of UV photons and/or X-rays, and the evolutionary status of the dust grain populations in the inner disks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1088-1098
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Infrared: stars
  • ISM: molecules
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks
  • Solar system: formation
  • Stars: individual (CS Cha, HD 97408, Sz 33, CV Cha, GM Aur, glass I)
  • Stars: pre-main-sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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