Investigating the Sulfur Mystery in Protoplanetary Disks Through Chemical Modeling

Author: ORCID icon
Williams, Becky, Astronomy, University of Virginia
Cleeves, L. Ilsedore, AS-Astronomy (ASTR), University of Virginia

Sulfur is a critical element to life on Earth, and with detections of sulfur-bearing molecules in exoplanets and comets, questions arise as to how sulfur is incorporated into planets in the first place. In order to understand sulfur's journey, we need to understand the molecular forms that sulfur takes in protoplanetary disks, where the rotational emission from sulfur-bearing molecules in the gas phase indicates a very low abundance. To address this question, we have updated the 2D time-dependent disk chemical modeling framework of Fogel et al. (2011) to incorporate several new sulfur species and hundreds of new sulfur reactions from the literature. Specifically, we investigate the main molecular forms that sulfur takes in a disk orbiting a solar mass young T Tauri star. We explore the effects of different volatile (reactive) sulfur abundances, C/O ratios, and initial sulfur molecular forms. We find that a high C/O ratio can explain both the prevalence of CS observed in disks and the lack of SO detections, consistent with previous results. Additionally, initial sulfur form greatly affects the ice abundances in the lower layers of the disk, which has implications for comet formation and future observations with JWST.

BA (Bachelor of Arts)
Protoplanetary disks, Astrochemistry
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