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Spectral Line Survey Reveals New Molecules in Two Protoplanetary Disks

7 Jul 2020, 16:00 UTC
Spectral Line Survey Reveals New Molecules in Two Protoplanetary Disks
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Editor’s note: Astrobites is a graduate-student-run organization that digests astrophysical literature for undergraduate students. As part of the partnership between the AAS and astrobites, we occasionally repost astrobites content here at AAS Nova. We hope you enjoy this post from astrobites; the original can be viewed at astrobites.org.
Title: An Unbiased ALMA Spectral Survey of the LkCa 15 and MWC 480 Protoplanetary Disks
Authors: Ryan A. Loomis et al.
First Author’s Institution: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Status: Published in ApJ
Molecules in Protoplanetary Disks
Protoplanetary disks, which are comprised of gas and dust rotating around young stars, are the cradles of planet formation. Many efforts have focused on measuring the total amount of dust in these disks, as dust grains provide the raw materials to form terrestrial planets and the rocky cores of giant planets. However, the abundance and distribution of molecular gas within these disks also has an outsized impact on the composition of nascent comets and planetesimals. An understanding of the chemical complexity that is present at this early stage of planet formation is also directly relevant to questions of the origins of life. Moreover, molecules serve as valuable tracers of disk properties such as temperature, gas density, ...

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