The foggy disks surrounding AeBe stars: A theoretical study of the HDO lines

C. Ceccarelli, J. Cernicharo, F. Ménard, C. Pinte

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Water is an important species that has a large influence on the chemical and physical structure of protoplanetary disks. Unfortunately, its main isotope is difficult to observe from the ground because of Earth's atmosphere, with the exception of a few maser lines. A viable alternative is offered by its isotopologue HDO, for which several lines are observable (and observed) with ground telescopes. In addition, observations of the HDO lines permit us to estimate the HDO/H2O ratio, which can be a powerful diagnostic of the past history of the disk. In this Letter, we present a theoretical study of the HDO lines. We show that a few HDO lines are bright enough to be observable with ground-based telescopes. Among them, the 225 GHz line is the brightest because of a maser effect taking place in the inner dense and warm regions of the disk. The high-frequency lines are all in absorption, with absorption that can reach almost the totality of the continuum.We discuss how the line spectra arise from a delicate equilibrium between emission and absorption and are, therefore, highly dependent on the assumed physical and chemical structure. We also show that the HDO/H2O ratio can not be derived with a simple prescription but it requires multi-frequency observations coupled with careful modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L135-L139
Number of pages5
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2 PART 2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • ISM: abundances
  • ISM: molecules
  • Protoplanetary disks

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