Saturday, December 27, 2014

Detecting Proto Kuiper Belt in Stellar Systems Forming Exoplanets

Detections of trans-Neptunian ice in protoplanetary disks


McClure et al


We present Herschel Space Observatory PACS spectra of T Tauri stars, in which we detect amorphous and crystalline water ice features. Using irradiated accretion disk models, we determine the disk structure and ice abundance in each of the systems. Combining a model-independent comparison of the ice feature strength and disk size with a detailed analysis of the model ice location, we estimate that the ice emitting region is at disk radii greater than 30AU, consistent with a proto-Kuiper belt. Vertically, the ice emits most below the photodesorption zone, consistent with Herschel observations of cold water vapor. The presence of crystallized water ice at a disk location a) colder than its crystallization temperature and b) where it should have been re-amorphized in ~1 Myr suggests that localized generation is occurring; the most likely cause appears to be micrometeorite impact or planetesimal collisions. Based on simple tests with UV models and different ice distributions, we suggest that the SED shape from 20 to 50 micron may probe the location of the water ice snow line in the disk upper layers. This project represents one of the first extra-solar probes of the spatial structure of the cometary ice reservoir thought to deliver water to terrestrial planets.

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