Optical and Radio Observations of the T Tauri Binary KH 15D (V582 Mon): Stellar Properties, Disk Mass Limit, and Discovery of a CO Outflow

Rachel A. Aronow, William Herbst, A. Meredith Hughes, David J. Wilner, Joshua N. Winn

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We present VRIJHK photometry of the KH 15D T Tauri binary system for the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 observing seasons. For the first time in the modern (CCD) era, we are seeing Star B fully emerge from behind the trailing edge of the precessing circumbinary ring during each apastron passage. We are, therefore, able to measure its luminosity and color. Decades of photometry on the system now allow us to infer the effective temperature, radius, mass, and age of each binary component. We find our values to be in good agreement with previous studies, including archival photographic photometry from the era when both stars were fully visible, and they set the stage for a full model of the system that can be constructed once radial velocity measurements are available. We also present the first high-sensitivity radio observations of the system, taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Submillimeter Array. The respective 2.0 and 0.88 mm observations provide an upper limit on the circumbinary (gas and dust) disk mass of 1.7 M Jup and reveal an extended CO outflow, which overlaps with the position, systemic velocity, and orientation of the KH 15D system and is certainly associated with it. The low velocity, tight collimation, and extended nature of the emission suggest that the outflow is inclined nearly orthogonal to the line of sight, implying it is also orthogonal to the circumbinary ring. The position angle of the radio outflow also agrees precisely with the direction of polarization of the optical emission during the faint phase. A small offset between the optical image of the binary and the central line of the CO outflow remains a puzzle and possible clue to the jet launching mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number47
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • binaries: close
  • open clusters and associations: individual (NGC 2264
  • stars: individual (KH 15D)
  • stars: pre-main sequence


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