Planet Hunting with ALMA Observations of Molecular Emission

Mon, October 12, 2015

Tac seminar image for website

During the initial phases of planet-formation, young, self-luminous gas giants embedded in cold molecular disks can directly heat their local environment. The accretion luminosity from the planet can sublimate ices in the immediate vicinity that are otherwise fully frozen-out onto dust grains, creating a unique gas-phase signature. We have modeled the 3D chemical structure induced by the planet, assuming the planet sits within a narrow gap. We find that the gas-phase signature is detectable in a reasonable amount of ALMA time using multiple transitions and multiple molecular species. Furthermore, due to the rapid timescales for freeze-out and desorption, the gas-phase enhancement near the planet will follow the planet closely, which offers the possibility of repeat measurements to confirm orbital motion.