DR Tau: Temporal variability of the brightness distribution in the potential planet-forming region
Brunngräber et al
We investigate the variability of the brightness distribution and the changing density structure of the protoplanetary disk around DR Tau, a classical T Tauri star. DR Tau is known for its peculiar variations from the ultraviolet (UV) to the mid-infrared (MIR). Our goal is to constrain the temporal variation of the disk structure based on photometric and MIR interferometric data. We observed DR Tau with the MID-infrared Interferometric instrument (MIDI) at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at three epochs separated by about nine years, two months, respectively. We fit the spectral energy distribution and the MIR visibilities with radiative transfer simulations. We are able to reproduce the spectral energy distribution as well as the MIR visibility for one of the three epochs (third epoch) with a basic disk model. We were able to reproduce the very different visibility curve obtained nine years earlier with a very similar baseline (first epoch), using the same disk model with a smaller scale height. The same density distribution also reproduces the observation made with a higher spatial resolution in the second epoch, i.e. only two months before the third epoch.