Unveiling the circumstellar envelope and disk: A subarcsecond survey of circumstellar structures

Leslie W. Looney, Lee G. Mundy, W. J. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the results of a λ = 2.7 mm continuum interferometric survey of 24 young stellar objects in 11 fields. The target objects range from deeply embedded class 0 sources to optical T Tauri sources. This is the first subarcsecond survey of the λ = 2.7 mm dust continuum emission from young, embedded stellar systems. These multiarray observations, utilizing the high dynamic u-v range of the BIMA array, fully sample spatial scales ranging from 0″.4 to 60″, thus allowing the first consistent comparison of dust emission structures in a variety of systems. The images show a diversity of structure and complexity. The optically visible T Tauri stars (DG Tauri, HL Tauri, GG Tauri, and GM Aurigae) have continuum emission dominated by compact (≤ 1″) circumstellar disks. In the cases of HL Tauri and DG Tauri, the disks are resolved. The more embedded near-infrared sources (SVS 13 and L1551 1RS 5) have continuum emission that is extended and compact. The embedded sources (L1448 1RS 3, NGC 1333 IRAS 2, NGC 1333 IRAS 4, VLA 1623, and IRAS 16293-2422) have continuum emission dominated by the extended envelope, typically ≥85% of the emission at λ= 2.7 mm. In many of the deeply embedded systems, it is difficult to uniquely isolate the disk emission component from the envelope extending inward to AU-sized scales. Simple estimates of the circumstellar mass in the optical/infrared and embedded systems are in the ranges 0.01-0.08 M and 0.04-2.88 M, respectively. All of the target embedded objects are in multiple systems with separations on scales of ∼30″ or less. Based on the system separation, we place the objects in three categories: separate envelope (separation ≥6500 AU), common envelope (separation 150-3000 AU), and common disk (separation ≤100 AU). These three groups can be linked with fragmentation events during the star formation process: separate envelopes from prompt initial fragmentation and the separate collapse of a loosely condensed cloud, common envelopes from fragmentation of a moderately centrally condensed spherical system, and common disk from fragmentation of a high angular momentum circumstellar disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-498
Number of pages22
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Radio continuum: stars
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: pre-main-sequence
  • Surveys
  • Techniques: interferometric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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