An international team of astronomers led by the observatory’s Arjan Sturm has created the first two-dimensional inventory of ice in the planet-forming disk of dust and gas surrounding a young star. The researchers, including Melissa McClure, used the James Webb Space Telescope and published their findings Dec. 6 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Ice is important in the formation of planets and comets. Thanks to ice, solid dust particles collect into larger clumps, from which planets and comets are formed. In addition, the impact of ice-bearing comets likely significantly influenced the amount of water on Earth, forming the oceans. This ice also contains atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, which are important in forming the molecular building blocks of life. However, the ice within planet-forming disks has never been mapped in detail. That’s because telescopes on Earth are blocked by the water-laden atmosphere, and other space telescopes weren’t large enough to detect and resolve such faint targets. james webb space telescope solve these problems.
The researchers studied the starlight of the young star HH 48 NE as it passes through the planet-forming disk toward the space telescope. This star and disk are located approximately 600 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation Chameleon. The disk is viewed from the side, so it looks like a hamburger with a dark lane in the middle and two light buns. On its way to the telescope, the star’s light collides with many molecules in the disk. This creates an absorption spectrum with unique peaks for each molecule. The disadvantage is that very little light reaches the telescope from the densest parts of the disk, especially in dark alleys. However, the James Webb Space Telescope is more sensitive than any other telescope, so lower light levels are not a problem.
The researchers observed a distinct peak for water ice (H).2O), carbon dioxide ice (CO)2), absorption spectrum of carbon monoxide ice (CO). Additionally, they found evidence of ammonia ice (NH3), cyanate (OCN–), carbonyl sulfide (OCS), and heavy carbon dioxide (13C.O.2). For the first time, researchers were able to calculate how much carbon dioxide is present in the disk from the ratio of normal carbon dioxide to heavy carbon dioxide. One interesting result was that the CO ice the researchers detected may have been mixed with less volatile CO.2 And water ice allows it to remain frozen closer to the star than previously thought.
“Direct mapping of ice within planet-forming disks provides important information for modeling studies that will help us better understand the formation around Earth, other planets in our solar system, and other stars.” “With our observations, we can now begin to make more solid claims about the physics and chemistry of star and planet formation,” said study lead author Arjan Sturm (Leiden University, the Netherlands). I am.
“In 2016, we created Ice Age, one of the first JWST research programs. We wanted to study how the system evolves on its journey to the comet-forming region, and now we’re starting to see the results. These are really exciting times,” said co-author Melissa McClure. Leiden University) says. She led the research program and published her first paper. Observation of ice in molecular clouds during the ICE era In January 2023.
The Ice Age team plans to study a broader spectrum of the same planet-forming disks in the near future. Additionally, it is now possible to observe other planet-forming disks. If the findings about CO ice mixtures are correct, they could change our current understanding of planetary composition and bring more carbon-rich planets closer to their stars. The researchers ultimately hope to learn more about the formation routes and resulting compositions of planets, asteroids, and comets.
This article was published on the website as a press release. Dutch Onderzoug School for Astronomy (NOVA).
Image 1: HST, JWST, Sturm et al. [high resolution]
Image 2: Sturm et al. [high resolution]