November 2016 • 2016ApJ...832....4G
Abstract • We present new SOFIA-FORCAST observations obtained in 2016 February of the archetypal outbursting low-mass young stellar object FU Orionis, and we compare the continuum, solid-state, and gas properties with mid-infrared data obtained at the same wavelengths in 2004 with Spitzer-IRS. In this study, we conduct the first mid-infrared spectroscopic comparison of an FUor over a long time period. Over a 12-year period, UBVR monitoring indicates that FU Orionis has continued its steady decrease in overall brightness by ∼14%. We find that this decrease in luminosity occurs only at wavelengths ≲20 μm. In particular, the continuum shortward of the silicate emission complex at 10 μm exhibits a ∼12% (∼3σ) drop in flux density but no apparent change in slope; both the Spitzer and SOFIA spectra are consistent with a 7200 K blackbody. Additionally, the detection of water absorption is consistent with the Spitzer spectrum. The silicate emission feature at 10 μm continues to be consistent with unprocessed grains, unchanged over 12 years. We conclude that either the accretion rate in FU Orionis has decreased by ∼12-14% over this time baseline or the inner disk has cooled, but the accretion disk remains in a superheated state outside the innermost region.