Molecular gas in young debris disks

A. Moór, P. Ábrahám, A. Juhász, Cs Kiss, I. Pascucci, A. Kóspál, D. Apai, Th Henning, T. Csengeri, C. Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Gas-rich primordial disks and tenuous gas-poor debris disks are usually considered as two distinct evolutionary phases of the circumstellar matter. Interestingly, the debris disk around the young main-sequence star 49 Ceti possesses a substantial amount of molecular gas and possibly represents the missing link between the two phases. Motivated to understand the evolution of the gas component in circumstellar disks via finding more 49 Ceti-like systems, we carried out a CO J = 3-2 survey with the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment, targeting 20 infrared-luminous debris disks. These systems fill the gap between primordial and old tenuous debris disks in terms of fractional luminosity. Here we report on the discovery of a second 49 Ceti-like disk around the 30Myr old A3-type star HD21997, a member of the Columba Association. This system was also detected in the CO(2-1) transition, and the reliable age determination makes it an even clearer example of an old gas-bearing disk than 49 Ceti. While the fractional luminosities of HD21997 and 49 Ceti are not particularly high, these objects seem to harbor the most extended disks within our sample. The double-peaked profiles of HD21997 were reproduced by a Keplerian disk model combined with the LIME radiative transfer code. Based on their similarities, 49 Ceti and HD21997 may be the first representatives of a so far undefined new class of relatively old (≳8Myr), gaseous dust disks. From our results, neither primordial origin nor steady secondary production from icy planetesimals can unequivocally explain the presence of CO gas in the disk of HD21997.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL7
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 10 2011


  • circumstellar matter
  • infrared: stars
  • stars: individual (HD21997)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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