Low abundance, strong features: Window-dressing crystalline forsterite in the disk wall of HD 100546

G. D. Mulders, L. B.F.M. Waters, C. Dominik, B. Sturm, J. Bouwman, M. Min, A. P. Verhoeff, B. Acke, J. C. Augereau, N. J. Evans, Th Henning, G. Meeus, J. Olofsson

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Context. Forsterite is one of the crystalline dust species that is often observed in protoplanetary disks and solar system comets. Being absent in the interstellar medium, it must be produced during the disk lifetime. It can therefore serve as a tracer of dust processing and disk evolution, which can lead to a better understanding of the physical processes occurring in the disk, and possibly planet formation. However, the connection of these processes with the overall disk crystallinity remains unclear. Aims. We aim to characterize the forsterite abundance and spatial distribution in the disk of the Herbig Be star HD 100546, to investigate if a connection exists with the large disk gap. Methods. We use a 2D radiative transfer code, MCMax, to model the circumstellar dust around HD 100546. We use VISIR Q-band imaging to probe the outer disk geometry and mid-infrared features to model the spatial distribution of forsterite. The temperature-dependent shape of the 69 μm feature observed with Herschel***/PACS is used as a critical tool to constrain this distribution. Results. We find a crystalline mass fraction of 40-60%, located close to the disk wall between 13 and 20 AU, and possibly farther out at the disk surface. The forsterite is in thermal contact with the other dust species. We put an upper limit on the iron content of forsterite of 0.3%. Conclusions. Optical depth effects play a key role in explaining the observed forsterite features, hiding warm forsterite from view at short wavelengths. The disk wall acts as a showcase: it displays a localized high abundance of forsterite, which gives rise to a high observed crystallinity, while the overall mass fraction of forsterite is a factor of ten lower.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA93
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: individual: HD 100546
  • Stars: pre-main sequence


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