PI: Tracy Beck, Space Telescope Science Institute, email@example.com
Address: 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
CoI: Jeff Bary, Colgate University
Title: Spatially Resolving Molecular Hydrogen Emission in Planet-forming Disks
Abstract: We propose to acquire K-band NIFS+Altair integral field spectroscopy of seven young Sun-like stars to map the 2.12 um emission from molecular hydrogen gas in their circumstellar environments. Recent theoretical studies predict that H2 in the very inner regions of YSO disks may extend out to spatial distances of 30-50AU from the central star (depending on UV/X-ray excitation flux from the star). Gemini + NIFS Altair can spatially resolve this emission, if it exists. A pilot program was completed in semester 2007B which illustrates NIFS's ability to resolve faint H2 emission in the vicinity of bright young stars. The goal of the proposed observations is to establish the nature of the H2 gas in relation to the known circumstellar dust disk evolution and discover whether the H2 gas can reside in the disks of these stars or is entrained in highly-collimated outflows or wide-angle disk winds. Collectively, the proposed observations will spatially resolve the H2 emission, place constraints on the excitation mechanism, and provide an important observational test of the persistence of H2 gas in the inner planet-forming environments of Myr Sun-like stars.
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