Spitzer Observations of IC 348: The Disk Population at 2-3 Million Years

C.J. Lada, A.A. Muench, K.L. Luhman, L. Allen, L. Hartmann, T Megeath, P. Myers, & G. Fazio
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

K. Wood
University of Saint Andrews

J. Muzerolle, G. Reike, N. Siegler & E. Young
University of Arizona

We present near and mid-infrared photometry obtained with the Space Telescope of ~300 known members of the IC 348 cluster. We merge this photometry with existing ground-based optical and near-infrared photometry in order to construct optical-infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for all the cluster members and present a complete atlas of these SEDs. We employ these observations to both investigate the frequency and nature of the circumstellar disk population in the cluster. The observations span a wavelength range between 3.6 and 24 microns corresponding to disk radii of ~ 0.1 -- 5 AU from the central star. The observations are sufficiently sensitive to enable the first detailed measurement of the disk frequency for very low mass stars at the peak of the stellar IMF. Using measurements of infrared excess between 3.6 and 8 microns we find the total frequency of disk-bearing stars in the cluster to be 50%. However, only 30% of the member stars are surrounded by optically thick, primordial disks, while the remaining disk-bearing stars are surrounded by what appear to be optically thin, anemic disks. Both these values are below previous estimates for this cluster. The disk fraction appears to be a function of spectral type and stellar mass. The fraction of stars with optically thick disks ranges from 11 $\pm$ 8\% for stars earlier than K6, to 47% for K6-M2 stars to 28% for M2 - M6 stars. The disk longevity and thus conditions for planet formation appear to be most favorable for the K6-M2 stars which are objects of comparable mass to the sun for the age of this cluster. The optically thick disks around later type (> M4) stars appear to be less flared than the disks around earlier type stars. This may indicate a greater degree of dust settling and a more advanced evolutionary state for the late M disk population. Finally we find that the presence of an optically thick dust disk is correlated with gaseous accretion as measured by the strength of Halpha emission. A large fraction of stars classified as CTTS possess robust, optically thick disks and very few of such stars are found to be diskless. The majority (64%) of stars classified as WTTS are found to be diskless. However, a significant fraction (12%) of these stars are found to be surrounded by thick, primordial disks. These results suggest that it is more likely for dust disks to persist in the absence of active gaseous accretion than for active accretion to persist in the absence of dusty disks.

Astronomical Journal 2005, in press


Complete version of accepted paper is available in pdf format. Complete electronic versions of table 1 and table 2 can be found here.

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