Habitable Zones & Global Climate

The Trail Of Water And The Delivery Of Volatiles To Habitable Planets

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
March 18, 2019
Filed under
The Trail Of Water And The Delivery Of Volatiles To Habitable Planets
The broad infrared wavelength range in protoplanetary disks is in many cases dominated by strong emission from water lines when observed at high spectral resolving power. This plot shows a model of a typical disk around a solar-mass star at a distance of 125 pc, with line strengths fitted to Spitzer and Herschel spectra using a two-dimensional radiative transfer model (Blevins et al. 2016). The model is rendered at a resolving power of R = 50 000, and viewed at an inclination of 45 degrees. Also visible are the strong far-infrared emission bands of crystalline water ice.

Water is fundamental to our understanding of the evolution of planetary systems and the delivery of volatiles to the surfaces of potentially habitable planets.

Yet, we currently have essentially no facilities capable of observing this key species comprehensively. With this white paper, we argue that we need a relatively large, cold space-based observatory equipped with a high-resolution spectrometer, in the mid- through far-infrared wavelength range (25-600~μm) in order to answer basic questions about planet formation, such as where the Earth got its water, how giant planets and planetesimals grow, and whether water is generally available to planets forming in the habitable zone of their host stars.

Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Andrea Banzatti, Edwin Bergin, Geoffrey A. Blake, Sean Brittain, Maryvonne Gerin, Paul Goldsmith, Quentin Kral, David Leisawitz, Dariusz Lis, Melissa McClure, Stefanie Milam, Gary Melnick, Joan Najita, Karin Öberg, Matt Richter, Colette Salyk, Martina Wiedner, Ke Zhang
(Submitted on 15 Mar 2019)

Comments: Science white paper submitted to the Astro2020 Decadal Survey
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)
Cite as: arXiv:1903.06587 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1903.06587v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Klaus Martin Pontoppidan
[v1] Fri, 15 Mar 2019 15:05:36 UTC (8,836 KB)

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) 🖖🏻