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Astrochemistry: October 2013


The existence of water in extrasolar planetary systems is of great interest as it constrains the potential for habitable planets and life. Here, we report the identification of a circumstellar disk that resulted from the destruction of a water-rich and rocky, extrasolar minor planet.

We investigate water and deuterated water chemistry in turbulent protoplanetary disks. Chemical rate equations are solved with the diffusion term, mimicking turbulent mixing in vertical direction.

Astronomers have found the shattered remains of an asteroid that contained huge amounts of water orbiting an exhausted star, or white dwarf. This suggests that the star GD 61 and its planetary system - located about 150 light years away and at the end of its life - had the potential to contain Earth-like exoplanets.