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Astron. Astrophys. 334, 253-263 (1998)

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Progressive dispersal of the dense gas in the environment of early-type and late-type Herbig Ae-Be stars

A. Fuente 1, J. Martin-Pintado 1, R. Bachiller 1, R. Neri 2 and F. Palla 3

1 Observatorio Astronómico Nacional (IGN), Campus Universitario, Apdo. 1143, E-28800 Alcalá de Henares (Madrid), Spain
2 Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM), 300 rue de la Piscine, Domaine Universitaire, F-38406 St Martin d'Hères Cedex, France
3 Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo Enrico Fermi 5, I-50125 Firenze, Italy

Received 18 December 1997 / Accepted 18 February 1998


We have carried out a systematic study of the environment of 14 Herbig Ae/Be (HAEBE) stars at millimeter wavelengths. Our data show that there is a progressive dispersal of the dense gas associated with these stars in their evolution to the main sequence. The efficiency of this dispersal is very different for "early-type" (B0-B5) and "late-type" (B5-A5) stars. While in early-type stars the mean gas density in a radius of 0.08 pc decreases by almost two orders of magnitude during their evolution to the main sequence, in late-type stars it decreases by less than an order of magnitude. Because of this different efficiency, there is no correlation between the ages of the stars and the Hillenbrands' infrared (IR) groups. Early-type stars evolve from the Hillenbrand's Group I to Group III in their way to the main sequence, while late-type stars evolve from Group II to Group I.

Since the morphology of the parent molecular cloud seems to be strongly dependent on the age of the stars, we propose a new classification for both, early-type and late-type HAEBE stars. We refer as Type I stars to those immersed in a dense clump. These stars are associated with bipolar outflows and have ages [FORMULA] 105 yrs. We call Type III stars those that have completely dispersed the surrounding dense gas and are located in a cavity of the molecular cloud. Bipolar outflows are not associated with them and their ages are [FORMULA] 106 yrs. Type II stars represent the intermediate case, they are immersed in the molecular cloud but they are not at the peak of a dense clump. The advantage of this new classification is that it allows a simple and easy estimate of the evolutionary stage and age of HAEBE stars.

Key words: stars: formation – radio-lines: ISM – stars: pre-main sequence – ISM: abundances – ISM: clouds – ISM: molecules

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: May 12, 1998