[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present 13 epochs of near-infrared (0.8-5 μm) spectroscopic observations of the pre-transitional, "gapped" disk system in SAO 206462 (=HD 135344B). In all, six gas emission lines (Brα, Brγ, Paβ, Paγ, Paδ, Pa, and the 0.8446 μm line of O I) along with continuum measurements made near the standard J, H, K, and L photometric bands were measured. A mass accretion rate of approximately 2 × 10–8 M ☉ yr–1 was derived from the Brγ and Paβ lines. However, the fluxes of these lines varied by a factor of over two during the course of a few months. The continuum also varied, but by only ~30%, and even decreased at a time when the gas emission was increasing. The H I line at 1.083 μm was also found to vary in a manner inconsistent with that of either the hydrogen lines or the dust. Both the gas and dust variabilities indicate significant changes in the region of the inner gas and the inner dust belt that may be common to many young disk systems. If planets are responsible for defining the inner edge of the gap, they could interact with the material on timescales commensurate with what is observed for the variations in the dust, while other disk instabilities (thermal, magnetorotational) would operate there on longer timescales than we observe for the inner dust belt. For SAO 206462, the orbital period would likely be 1-3 years. If the changes are being induced in the disk material closer to the star than the gap, a variety of mechanisms (disk instabilities, interactions via planets) might be responsible for the changes seen. The He I feature is most likely due to a wind whose orientation changes with respect to the observer on timescales of a day or less. To further constrain the origin of the gas and dust emission will require multiple spectroscopic and interferometric observations on both shorter and longer timescales that have been sampled so far.
The Astrophysical Journal 12/2011; 745(1):29. · 6.73 Impact Factor