Complex organics in planet forming disks

Complex organics in planet forming disks

Large organic molecules in MAPS

Within the ‘Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales’ (MAPS) project, I led the analysis of the largest molecules observed. My paper, MAPS IX, investigates the prebiotically-interesting molecules HC3N, CH3CN, c-C3H2, which are robustly detected in all disks apart from IM Lup. We use rotation diagram analysis to infer a radially-resolved column density and rotational temperature profile for each molecule in each disk. Based on this, we find significant reservoirs of these large organics in the inner 50-100 au of the disks, emitting from very close to the midplane. Comparison of the ratio of small to large organic molecules in the disks suggests a similar composition to observations of comets. In combination, our results suggest that planets form in an environment rich with precursors of life-essential molecules, and this material has a composition similar to our own Solar System.

This work received significant attention in the international press, with write-ups being featured in The Telegraph, New Scientist, Forbes and many others.

MAPS IX Diagram

Oxygen-bearing organics in TW Hya

Coming soon…

Dr John D. Ilee
Postdoctoral Research Fellow