Space-based Coronagraphic Imaging Polarimetry of the TW Hydrae Disk: Shedding New Light on Self-shadowing Effects

Charles A. Poteet, Christine H. Chen, Dean C. Hines, Marshall D. Perrin, John H. Debes, Laurent Pueyo, Glenn Schneider, Johan Mazoyer, Ludmilla Kolokolova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We present Hubble Space Telescope Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer coronagraphic imaging polarimetry of the TW Hydrae protoplanetary disk. These observations simultaneously measure the total and polarized intensity, allowing direct measurement of the polarization fraction across the disk. In accord with the self-shadowing hypothesis recently proposed by Debes et al., we find that the total and polarized intensity of the disk exhibits strong azimuthal asymmetries at projected distances consistent with the previously reported bright and dark ring-shaped structures (∼45-99 au). The sinusoidal-like variations possess a maximum brightness at position angles near ∼268°-300° and are up to ∼28% stronger in total intensity. Furthermore, significant radial and azimuthal variations are also detected in the polarization fraction of the disk. In particular, we find that regions of lower polarization fraction are associated with annuli of increased surface brightness, suggesting that the relative proportion of multiple-to-single scattering is greater along the ring and gap structures. Moreover, we find strong (∼20%) azimuthal variation in the polarization fraction along the shadowed region of the disk. Further investigation reveals that the azimuthal variation is not the result of disk flaring effects, but is instead from a decrease in the relative contribution of multiple-to-single scattering within the shadowed region. Employing a two-layer scattering surface, we hypothesize that the diminished contribution in multiple scattering may result from shadowing by an inclined inner disk, which prevents direct stellar light from reaching the optically thick underlying surface component.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 20 2018


  • circumstellar matter
  • polarization
  • protoplanetary disks
  • stars: individual (TW Hya)
  • stars: premain sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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