Hints for Icy Pebble Migration Feeding an Oxygen-rich Chemistry in the Inner Planet-forming Region of Disks

Andrea Banzatti, Ilaria Pascucci, Arthur D. Bosman, Paola Pinilla, Colette Salyk, Gregory J. Herczeg, Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Ivan Vazquez, Andrew Watkins, Sebastiaan Krijt, Nathan Hendler, Feng Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


We present a synergic study of protoplanetary disks to investigate links between inner-disk gas molecules and the large-scale migration of solid pebbles. The sample includes 63 disks where two types of measurements are available: (1) spatially resolved disk images revealing the radial distribution of disk pebbles (millimeter to centimeter dust grains), from millimeter observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array or the Submillimeter Array, and (2) infrared molecular emission spectra as observed with Spitzer. The line flux ratios of H2O with HCN, C2H2, and CO2 all anticorrelate with the dust disk radius Rdust, expanding previous results found by Najita et al. for HCN/H2O and the dust disk mass. By normalization with the dependence on accretion luminosity common to all molecules, only the H2O luminosity maintains a detectable anticorrelation with disk radius, suggesting that the strongest underlying relation is between H2O and Rdust. If Rdust is set by large-scale pebble drift, and if molecular luminosities trace the elemental budgets of inner-disk warm gas, these results can be naturally explained with scenarios where the inner disk chemistry is fed by sublimation of oxygen-rich icy pebbles migrating inward from the outer disk. Anticorrelations are also detected between all molecular luminosities and the infrared index n13–30, which is sensitive to the presence and size of an inner-disk dust cavity. Overall, these relations suggest a physical interconnection between dust and gas evolution, both locally and across disk scales. We discuss fundamental predictions to test this interpretation and study the interplay between pebble drift, inner disk depletion, and the chemistry of planet-forming material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 10 2020


  • Circumstellar disks (235)
  • Infrared astronomy (786)
  • Millimeter astronomy (1061)
  • Molecular gas (1073)
  • Molecular spectroscopy (2095)
  • Planetary system formation (1257)
  • Pre-main sequence stars (1290)
  • Protoplanetary disks (1300)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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