Mid-infrared photometry of the T Tauri triple system with kernel phase interferometry

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J. Kammerer, M. Kasper, M. J. Ireland, R. Köhler, R. Laugier, F. Martinache, R. Siebenmorgen, M. E. van den Ancker, R. van Boekel, T. M. Herbst, E. Pantin, H.-U. Käufl, D. J. M. Petit dit de la Roche, V. D. Ivanov

T Tauri has long been the prototypical young pre-main-sequence star. However, it has now been decomposed into a triple system with a complex disk and outflow geometry. We aim to measure the brightness of all three components of the T Tauri system (T Tau N, T Tau Sa, T Tau Sb) in the mid-infrared in order to obtain photometry around the ∼9.7 μm silicate feature. This allows us to study their variability and to investigate the distribution of dust and the geometry of circumstellar and circumbinary disks in this complex system. We observe T Tauri with the VLT/VISIR-NEAR instrument. With kernel phase interferometry post-processing of the data, and using the astrometric positions of all three components from VLT/SPHERE, we measure the three components' individual brightnesses (including the southern binary at an angular separation down to ∼0.2 λ/D) and obtain their photometry. In order to validate our methods, we simulate and recover mock data of the T Tauri system using the observed reference point-spread function of HD 27639. We find that T Tau N is rather stable and shows weak silicate emission, while T Tau Sa is highly variable and shows prominent silicate absorption. T Tau Sb became significantly fainter compared to data from 2004 and 2006, suggesting increased extinction by dust. The precision of our photometry is limited by systematic errors, which is consistent with previous studies using kernel phase interferometry. Our results confirm the complex scenario of misaligned disks in the T Tauri system that had been observed previously, and they are in agreement with the recently observed dimming of T Tau Sb in the near-infrared. Our mid-infrared photometry supports the interpretation that T Tau Sb has moved behind the dense region of the Sa-Sb circumbinary disk on its tight orbit around Sa, therefore suffering increased extinction.


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