Demographics of transition objects




The unusual properties of transition objects (young stars with an optically thin inner disc surrounded by an optically thick outer disc) suggest that significant disc evolution has occurred in these systems. We explore the nature of these systems by examining their demographics, specifically their stellar accretion rates inline image and disc masses Mdisc compared to those of accreting T Tauri stars of comparable age. We find that the transition objects in Taurus occupy a restricted region of the inline image versus Mdisc plane. Compared to non-transition single stars in Taurus, they have stellar accretion rates that are typically ∼10 times lower at the same disc mass and median disc masses approximately four times larger. These properties are anticipated by several proposed planet formation theories and suggest that the formation of Jovian mass planets may play a significant role in explaining the origin of at least some transition objects. Considering transition objects as a distinct demographic group among accreting T Tauri stars leads to a tighter relationship between disc masses and stellar accretion rates, with a slope between the two quantities that is close to the value of unity expected in simple theories of disc accretion.