Exploring organic chemistry in planet-forming zones

J. E. Bast*, F. Lahuis, E. F. van Dishoeck, A. G. G. M. Tielens

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Context. Over the last few years, the chemistry of molecules other than CO in the planet-forming zones of disks is starting to be explored with Spitzer and high-resolution ground-based data. However, these studies have focused only on a few simple molecules.

    Aims. The aim of this study is to put observational constraints on the presence of more complex organic and sulfur-bearing molecules predicted to be abundant in chemical models of disks and to simulate high resolution spectra in view of future missions.

    Methods. High signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) Spitzer spectra of the near edge-on disks IRS 46 and GV Tau are used to search for mid-infrared absorption bands of various molecules. These disks are good laboratories because absorption studies do not suffer from low line/continuum ratios that plague emission data. Simple local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) slab models are used to infer column densities (or upper limits) and excitation temperatures.

    Results. Mid-infrared bands of HCN, C2H2 and CO2 are clearly detected toward both sources. The HCN and C2H2 absorption arises in warm gas with excitation temperatures of 400-700 K, whereas the CO2 absorption originates in cooler gas of similar to 250 K. Column densities and their ratios are comparable for the two sources. No other absorption features are detected at the 3 sigma level. Column density limits of the majority of molecules predicted to be abundant in the inner disk - C2H4, C2H6, C6H6, C3H4, C4H2, CH3, HNC, HC3N, CH3CN, NH3 and SO2 - are determined and compared with disk models.

    Conclusions. The inferred abundance ratios and limits with respect to C2H2 and HCN are roughly consistent with models of the chemistry in high temperature gas. Models of UV irradiated disk surfaces generally agree better with the data than pure X-ray models. The limit on NH3/HCN implies that evaporation of NH3-containing ices is only a minor contributor. The inferred abundances and their limits also compare well with those found in comets, suggesting that part of the cometary material may derive from warm inner disk gas. The high resolution simulations show that future instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs), the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) and the Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA) can probe up to an order of magnitude lower abundance ratios and put important new constraints on the models, especially if pushed to high S/Ns.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA118
    Number of pages24
    JournalAstronomy & astrophysics
    Volume551
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2013

    Keywords

    • astrochemistry
    • line: profiles
    • planets and satellites: formation
    • protoplanetary disks
    • ISM: molecules
    • infrared: stars
    • YOUNG STELLAR OBJECTS
    • T-TAURI STARS
    • PROTOPLANETARY DISKS. II.
    • SPITZER-IRS SPECTRA
    • MIDINFRARED MOLECULAR-EMISSION
    • INTERMEDIATE-MASS STARS
    • HERBIG-AE STARS
    • X-RAY
    • CIRCUMSTELLAR DISKS
    • INNER REGIONS

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