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Spatial study with the VLT of a new resolved edge-on circumstellar dust disk discovered at the periphery of the rho Ophiuchi dark cloud

  • Grosso, N.
  • Alves, J.
  • Wood, K.
  • Neuhaeuser, R.
  • Montmerle, T.
  • Bjorkman, J. E.
Published Article
Publication Date
Nov 27, 2002
Submission Date
Nov 26, 2002
DOI: 10.1086/367557
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We report the discovery in NIR with SofI at the NTT of a resolved circumstellar dust disk around a 2MASS source at the periphery of the rho Ophiuchi dark cloud. We present follow-up observations in J, H, and Ks-band obtained with ISAAC at the VLT, under 0.4"-seeing conditions, which unveil a dark dust lane oriented East-West between two characteristic northern and southern reflection nebulae. This new circumstellar dust disk has a radius of 2.15" (300 AU at 140 pc), and a width of 1.2" (170 AU at 140 pc). Thanks to its location at the periphery of the dense cores, it suffers small foreground visual extinction (Av=2.1\pm2.6 mag). Although this disk is seen close to edge-on, the two reflection nebulae display very different colors. We introduce a new NIR data visualization called ``Pixel NIR Color Mapping'', which allows to visualize directly the NIR colors of the nebula pixels. Thanks to this method we identify a ridge, 0.3" (40 AU at 140 pc) to the north of the dark lane and parallel to it, which displays a NIR color excess. This ridge corresponds to an unusual increase of brightness from J to Ks, which is also visible in the NTT observation obtained 130 days before the VLT one. We also find that the northern nebula shows ~3 mag more extinction than the southern nebula. We compute axisymmetric disk models to reproduce the VLT scattered light images and the spectral energy distribution from optical to NIR. Our best model, with a disk inclination i=86\pm1 deg, correctly reproduces the extension of the southern reflection nebula, but it is not able to reproduce either the observed NIR color excess in the northern nebula or the extinction difference between the two reflection nebulae. We discuss the possible origin of the peculiar asymmetrical NIR color properties of this object.

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