We report on the detection of localized off-center emission at 1-4 AU in the circumstellar environment of the young stellar object AB Aurigae. We used closure-phase measurements in the near-infrared that were made at the long-baseline interferometer IOTA, the first obtained on a young stellar object using this technique. When probing sub-AU scales, all closure phases are close to zero degrees, as expected given the previously determined size of the AB Aurigae inner-dust disk. However, a clear closure-phase signal of -3fdg5 ? 0fdg5 is detected on one triangle containing relatively short baselines, requiring a high degree of non-point symmetry from emission at larger (AU-sized) scales in the disk. We have not identified any alternative explanation for these closure-phase results, and we demonstrate that a "disk hot spot" model can fit our data. We speculate that such detected asymmetric near-infrared emission might arise as a result of localized viscous heating due to a gravitational instability in the AB Aurigae disk, or to the presence of a close stellar companion or accreting substellar object.
- Infrared: Stars, Instrumentation: Interferometers, Stars: Planetary Systems: Protoplanetary Disks, Stars: Formation, Stars: Individual: Constellation Name: AB Aurigae, Techniques: High Anular Resolution