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Astron. Astrophys. 327, 145-154

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Dust around young stars

Photopolarimetric activity of the classical Herbig Ae/Be star RR Tauri*

A.N. Rostopchina1, V.P. Grinin1,2, A. Okazaki3, P.S. Thé4, S. Kikuchi5, and D.N. Shakhovskoy1, and N.Kh. Minikhulov6

1Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Crimea, 334413, Nauchny, Ukraine
2Astronomical Institute of the St. Petersburg University, St. Petersburg, Russia
3Department of Science Education, Gunma University, Aramaki, Maebashi, Gunma 371, Japan
4Astronomical Institute "Anton Pannekoek", University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
5Dodaira Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory, Tokigawa, Saitama 355-03, Japan
6Astrophysical Institute, Dushanbe, 734042, Tadjikistan

Received 2 January 1997 / Accepted 21 March 1997


The classical Herbig Ae/Be (HAeBe) star RR Tau is known as a highly variable young star with an amplitude of variability of about 4m in the V pass-band. In this paper we present the results of coordinated Crimea-Dodaira multi-band photo-polarimetric observations of this star which cover fully the observed interval of its brightness changes. Within the observed interval of its light variations the linear polarization of RR Tau anti-correlates with its brightness changes. The dependence of the linear polarization on the stellar magnitude agrees well with the model according to which the main source of the intrinsic polarization of RR Tau is scattered radiation by the circumstellar (CS) disk-like dust envelope (probably the protoplanetary disk) seen edge-on or under a small inclination to the line-of-sight, and that the brightness variations are caused by variable obscuration of the star by revolving circumstellar dust clouds.

A comparison with previous photo-polarimetric observations of this star shows that the Stokes parameters of its polarized radiation are quite stable on a time scale of about 7 years. By using this fact we have separated the interstellar and intrinsic components of the observed polarization. The numerical modeling of the intrinsic linear polarization together with the colour-magnitude diagrams of RR Tau show that the circumstellar disk-like envelope around this star is strongly flattened and that the characteristic size of the grains is intermediate between that of interstellar dust and dust in the old protoplanetary disk of FORMULA Pictoris. We assume on the basis of this analysis that RR Tau is surrounded by a young protoplanetary disk and that it can be considered as a young progenitor of FORMULA Pictoris.

Key words: stars: pre-main sequence - stars: variables - stars: individual: RR Tau - polarization - stars: circumstellar matter

*Tables 1 and 2 are only available in electronic form at CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr ( or via http://cdsweb.u-strasbg.fr/Abstract.html

Send offprint requests to: A.N. Rostopchina

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: October 1, 1997
Last change: April 8, 1998