Water vapor in the protoplanetary disk of DG Tau

L. Podio, I. Kamp, C. Codella, S. Cabrit, B. Nisini, C. Dougados, G. Sandell, J. P. Williams, L. Testi, W. F. Thi, P. Woitke, R. Meijerink, M. Spaans, G. Aresu, F. Ménard, C. Pinte

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Water is key in the evolution of protoplanetary disks and the formation of comets and icy/water planets. While high-excitation water lines originating in the hot inner disk have been detected in several T Tauri stars (TTSs), water vapor from the outer disk, where most water ice reservoirs are stored, was only reported in the nearby TTS TW Hya. We present spectrally resolved Herschel/HIFI observations of the young TTS DG Tau in the ortho- and para-water ground-state transitions at 557 and 1113 GHz. The lines show a narrow double-peaked profile, consistent with an origin in the outer disk, and are ∼19-26 times brighter than in TW Hya. In contrast, CO and [C II] lines are dominated by emission from the envelope/outflow, which makes H2O lines a unique tracer of the disk of DG Tau. Disk modeling with the thermo-chemical code ProDiMo indicates that the strong UV field, due to the young age and strong accretion of DG Tau, irradiates a disk upper layer at 10-90 AU from the star, heating it up to temperatures of 600 K and producing the observed bright water lines. The models suggest a disk mass of 0.015-0.1 M , consistent with the estimated minimum mass of the solar nebula before planet formation, and a water reservoir of ∼102-103 Earth oceans in vapor and ∼100 times larger in the form of ice. Hence, this detection supports the scenario of ocean delivery on terrestrial planets by the impact of icy bodies forming in the outer disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL5
Number of pages5
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • astrochemistry
  • ISM: molecules
  • protoplanetary disks
  • stars: individual (DG Tau)

Cite this

Podio, L., Kamp, I., Codella, C., Cabrit, S., Nisini, B., Dougados, C., Sandell, G., Williams, J. P., Testi, L., Thi, W. F., Woitke, P., Meijerink, R., Spaans, M., Aresu, G., Ménard, F., & Pinte, C. (2013). Water vapor in the protoplanetary disk of DG Tau. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 766(1), [L5]. https://doi.org/10.1088/2041-8205/766/1/L5