Tracing water vapor and ice during dust growth [EPA]

The processes that govern the evolution of dust and water (in the form of vapor or ice) in protoplanetary disks are intimately connected. We have developed a model that simulates dust coagulation, dust dynamics (settling, turbulent mixing), vapor diffusion, and condensation/sublimation of volatiles onto grains in a vertical column of a protoplanetary disk. We employ the model to study how dust growth and dynamics influence the vertical distribution of water vapor and water ice in the region just outside the radial snowline. Our main finding is that coagulation (boosted by the enhanced stickiness of icy grains) and the ensuing vertical settling of solids results in water vapor being depleted, but not totally removed, from the region above the snowline on a timescale commensurate with the vertical turbulent mixing timescale. Depending on the strength of the turbulence and the temperature, the depletion can reach factors of up to ${\sim}50$ in the disk atmosphere. In our isothermal column, this vapor depletion results in the vertical snowline moving closer to the midplane (by up to 2 gas scale heights) and the gas-phase C/O ratio above the vertical snowline increasing. Our findings illustrate the importance of dynamical effects and the need for understanding coevolutionary dynamics of gas and solids in planet-forming environments.

Read this paper on arXiv…

S. Krijt, F. Ciesla and E. Bergin
Fri, 21 Oct 16

Comments: Accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal