Mid-infrared size survey of young stellar objects: Description of Keck segment-tilting experiment and basic results

J. D. Monnier*, P. G. Tuthill, M. Ireland, R. Cohen, A. Tannirkulam, M. D. Perrin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The mid-infrared properties of pre-planetary disks are sensitive to the temperature and flaring profiles of disks for the regions where planet formation is expected to occur. In order to constrain theories of planet formation, we have carried out a mid-infrared (λ = 10.7 μm) size survey of young stellar objects using the segmented Keck telescope in a novel configuration. We introduced a customized pattern of tilts to individual mirror segments to allow efficient sparse-aperture interferometry, allowing full aperture synthesis imaging with higher calibration precision than traditional imaging. In contrast to previous surveys on smaller telescopes and with poorer calibration precision, we find that most objects in our sample are partially resolved. Here, we present the main observational results of our survey of five embedded massive protostars, 25 Herbig Ae/Be stars, 3 T Tauri stars, 1 FU Ori system, and five emission-line objects of uncertain classification. The observed midinfrared sizes do not obey the size-luminosity relation found at near-infrared wavelengths and a companion paper will provide further modeling analysis of this sample. In addition, we report imaging results for a few of the most resolved objects, including complex emission around embedded massive protostars, the photoevaporating circumbinary disk around MWC 361A, and the subarcsecond binaries T Tau, FU Ori, and MWC 1080.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-505
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion
  • Accretion disks
  • Circumstellar matter
  • Instrumentation: interferometers
  • Radiative transfer
  • Stars: formation
  • Stars: pre-main sequence


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