Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Water on Exoplanets

Water: from clouds to planets


van Dishoeck et al


Results from recent space missions, in particular Spitzer and Herschel, have lead to significant progress in our understanding of the formation and transport of water from clouds to disks, planetesimals, and planets. In this review, we provide the underpinnings for the basic molecular physics and chemistry of water and outline these advances in the context of water formation in space, its transport to a forming disk, its evolution in the disk, and finally the delivery to forming terrestrial worlds and accretion by gas giants. Throughout, we pay close attention to the disposition of water as vapor or solid and whether it might be subject to processing at any stage. The context of the water in the solar system and the isotopic ratios (D/H) in various bodies are discussed as grounding data point for this evolution. Additional advances include growing knowledge of the composition of atmospheres of extra-solar gas giants, which may be influenced by the variable phases of water in the protoplanetary disk. Further, the architecture of extra-solar systems leaves strong hints of dynamical interactions, which are important for the delivery of water and subsequent evolution of planetary systems. We conclude with an exploration of water on Earth and note that all of the processes and key parameters identified here should also hold for exoplanetary systems.

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