CO/H₂ Abundance Ratio \ap 10$^–4$ in a Protoplanetary Disk

TitleCO/H₂ Abundance Ratio \ap 10$^–4$ in a Protoplanetary Disk
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsFrance, K, Herczeg, G J, McJunkin, M, Penton, S V
Keywordsprotoplanetary disks, stars: individual: RW Aur A, ultraviolet: planetary systems

{The relative abundances of atomic and molecular species in planet-forming disks around young stars provide important constraints on photochemical disk models and provide a baseline for calculating disk masses from measurements of trace species. A knowledge of absolute abundances, those relative to molecular hydrogen (H₂), are challenging because of the weak rovibrational transition ladder of H₂ and the inability to spatially resolve different emission components within the circumstellar environment. To address both of these issues, we present new contemporaneous measurements of CO and H₂ absorption through the ''warm molecular layer'' of the protoplanetary disk around the Classical T Tauri Star RW Aurigae A. We use a newly commissioned observing mode of the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to detect warm H₂ absorption in this region for the first time. An analysis of the emission and absorption spectrum of RW Aur shows components from the accretion region near the stellar photosphere, the molecular disk, and several outflow components. The warm H₂ and CO absorption lines are consistent with a disk origin. We model the 1092-1117 {\AA} spectrum of RW Aur to derive log$_{10}$ N(H₂) = 19.90$^{+0.33}$$_{-0.22}$ cm$^{–2}$ at T $_{rot}$(H₂) = 440 {\plusmn} 39 K. The CO A - X bands observed from 1410 to 1520 {\AA} are best fit by log$_{10}$ N(CO) = 16.1 $^{+0.3}$$_{-0.5}$ cm$^{–2}$ at T $_{rot}$(CO) = 200$^{+650}$$_{-125}$ K. Combining direct measurements of the H I, H₂, and CO column densities, we find a molecular fraction in the warm disk surface of f $_{H2}$ {\gt}= 0.47 and derive a molecular abundance ratio of CO/H₂ = 1.6$^{+4.7}$$_{-1.3}$ {\times} 10$^{–4}$, both consistent with canonical interstellar dense cloud values. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained from the data archive at the Space Telescope Science Institute. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. }