PAH emission from Herbig Ae/Be stars

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We present spectra of a sample of Herbig Ae and Be (HAeBe) stars obtained with the Infrared Spectrograph on Spitzer. All but one of the Herbig stars show emission from PAHs, and seven of the spectra show PAH emission, but no silicate emission at 10 μm. The central wavelengths of the 6.2,7.7-8.2, and 11.3 μm emission features decrease with stellar temperature, indicating that the PAHs are less photoprocessed in cooler radiation fields. The apparent low level of photoprocessing in HAeBe stars, relative to other PAH emission sources, implies that the PAHs are newly exposed to the UV-optical radiation fields from their host stars. HAeBe stars show a variety of PAH emission intensities and ionization fractions but a narrow range of PAH spectral classifications based on positions of major PAH feature centers. This may indicate that, regardless of their locations relative to the stars, the PAH molecules are altered by the same physical processes in the protoplanetary disks of intermediate-mass stars. Analysis of the mid-IR SEDs indicates that our sample likely includes both radially flared and more flattened/settled disk systems, but we do not see the expected correlation of overall PAH emission with disk geometry. We suggest that the strength of PAH emission from HAeBe stars may depend not only on the degree of radial flaring but also on the abundance of PAHs in illuminated regions of the disks and possibly on the vertical structure of the inner disk as well. © 2008. The American Asironomical Society. All rights reserved.

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Astrophysical Journal

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