Volatiles in Protoplanetary Disks

By Keith Cowing
January 12, 2014
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Volatiles in Protoplanetary Disks

Volatiles are compounds with low sublimation temperatures, and they make up most of the condensible mass in typical planet-forming environments.

They consist of relatively small, often hydrogenated, molecules based on the abundant elements carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. Volatiles are central to the process of planet formation, forming the backbone of a rich chemistry that sets the initial conditions for the formation of planetary atmospheres, and act as a solid mass reservoir catalyzing the formation of planets and planetesimals. This growth has been driven by rapid advances in observations and models of protoplanetary disks, and by a deepening understanding of the cosmochemistry of the solar system. Indeed, it is only in the past few years that representative samples of molecules have been discovered in great abundance throughout protoplanetary disks – enough to begin building a complete budget for the most abundant elements after hydrogen and helium.

The spatial distributions of key volatiles are being mapped, snow lines are directly seen and quantified, and distinct chemical regions within protoplanetary disks are being identified, characterized and modeled. Theoretical processes invoked to explain the solar system record are now being observationally constrained in protoplanetary disks, including transport of icy bodies and concentration of bulk condensibles. The balance between chemical reset – processing of inner disk material strong enough to destroy its memory of past chemistry, and inheritance – the chemically gentle accretion of pristine material from the interstellar medium in the outer disk, ultimately determines the final composition of pre-planetary matter. This chapter focuses on making the first steps toward understanding whether the planet formation processes that led to our solar system are universal.

Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Colette Salyk, Edwin A. Bergin, Sean Brittain, Bernard Marty, Olvier Mousis, Karin L. Oberg (Submitted on 10 Jan 2014)

Comments: Accepted for publication as a chapter in Protostars and Planets VI, University of Arizona Press (2014), eds. H. Beuther, R. Klessen, C. Dullemond, Th. Henning

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP) Cite as: arXiv:1401.2423 [astro-ph.EP]

(or arXiv:1401.2423v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history From: Klaus Martin Pontoppidan [view email] [v1] Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:45:01 GMT (689kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻