Windows Through the Dusty Disks Surrounding the Youngest Low-Mass Protostellar Objects

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Science  28 Apr 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5466, pp. 649-652
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5466.649

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The formation and evolution of young low-mass stars are characterized by important processes of mass loss and accretion occurring in the innermost regions of their placentary circumstellar disks. Because of the large obscuration of these disks at optical and infrared wavelengths in the early protostellar stages (class 0 sources), they were previously detected only at radio wavelengths using interferometric techniques. We have detected with the Infrared Space Observatory the mid-infrared (mid-IR) emission associated with the class 0 protostar VLA1 in the HH1-HH2 region located in the Orion nebula. The emission arises in three wavelength windows (at 5.3, 6.6, and 7.5 micrometers) where the absorption due to ices and silicates has a local minimum that exposes the central part of the young protostellar system to mid-IR investigations. The mid-IR emission arises from a central source with a diameter of 4 astronomical units at an averaged temperature of ∼700 K, deeply embedded in a dense region with a visual extinction of 80 to 100 magnitudes.

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