Sunday, February 28, 2016

Measuring the Water Snowline in Protoplanetary Disks

Measurements of water surface snow lines in classical protoplanetary disks


Blevins et al


We present deep Herschel-PACS spectroscopy of far-infrared water lines from a sample of four protoplanetary disks around solar-mass stars, selected to have strong water emission at mid-infrared wavelengths. By combining the new Herschel spectra with archival Spitzer-IRS spectroscopy, we retrieve a parameterized radial surface water vapor distribution from 0.1-100 AU using two-dimensional dust and line radiative transfer modeling. The surface water distribution is modeled with a step model comprising of a constant inner and outer relative water abundance and a critical radius at which the surface water abundance is allowed to change. We find that the four disks have critical radii of ∼3−11 AU, at which the surface water abundance decreases by at least 5 orders of magnitude. The measured values for the critical radius are consistently smaller than the location of the surface snow line, as predicted by the observed spectral energy distribution. This suggests that the sharp drop-off of the surface water abundance is not solely due to the local gas-solid balance, but may also be driven by the de-activation of gas-phase chemical pathways to water below 300 K. Assuming a canonical gas-to-dust ratio of 100, as well as coupled gas and dust temperatures Tgas=Tdust, the best-fit inner water abundances become implausibly high (0.01-1.0 H2−1). Conversely, a model in which the gas and dust temperatures are decoupled leads to canonical inner disk water abundances of ∼10−4H−12, while retaining gas-to-dust ratios of 100. That is, the evidence for gas-dust decoupling in disk surfaces is stronger than for enhanced gas-to-dust ratios.

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