We present near- and mid-infrared photometry obtained with the Spitzer Space Telescope of ~300 known members of the IC 348 cluster. We merge this photometry with existing ground-based optical and near-infrared photometry in order to construct optical-infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs) for all the cluster members and present a complete atlas of these SEDs. We employ these observations to investigate both the frequency and nature of the circumstellar disk population in the cluster. The Spitzer observations span a wavelength range between 3.6 and 24 μm, corresponding to disk radii of ∼0.1 -5 AU from the central star. The observations are sufficiently sensitive to enable the first detailed measurement of the disk frequency for very low mass stars at the peak of the stellar initial mass function. Using measurements of infrared excess between 3.6 and 8.0 μm, we find the total frequency of disk-bearing stars in the cluster to be 50% ± 6%. However, only 30% ± 4% of the member stars are surrounded by optically thick, primordial disks, while the remaining disk-bearing stars are surrounded by what appear to be optically thin, anemic disks. Both these values are below previous estimates for this cluster. The disk fraction appears to be a function of spectral type and stellar mass. The fraction of stars with optically thick disks ranges from 11% ± 8% for stars earlier than K6 to 47% ± 12% for K6-M2 stars to 28% ± 5% for M2-M6 stars. The disk longevity and thus conditions for planet formation appear to be most favorable for the K6-M2 stars, which are objects of comparable mass to the Sun for the age of this cluster. The optically thick disks around later type (>M4) stars appear to be less flared than the disks around earlier type stars. This may indicate a greater degree of dust settling and a more advanced evolutionary state for the late M disk population. Finally, we find that the presence of an optically thick dust disk is correlated with gaseous accretion, as measured by the strength of Hα emission. A large fraction of stars classified as classical T Tauri stars possess robust, optically thick disks, and very few such stars are found to be diskless. The majority (64%) of stars classified as weak-lined T Tauri stars are found to be diskless. However, a significant fraction (12%) of these stars are found to be surrounded by thick, primordial disks. These results suggest that it is more likely for dust disks to persist in the absence of active gaseous accretion than for active accretion to persist in the absence of dusty disks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science