Testing the Retrieval of Inner Disk Water Enrichment with Spitzer/IRS and JWST/MIRI

Mackenzie M. James, Ilaria Pascucci, Yao Liu, Andrea Banzatti, Sebastiaan Krijt, Feng Long, Inga Kamp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Planet formation by pebble accretion requires an efficient inward flux of icy pebbles to explain the many mini-Neptunes and super-Earths discovered by Kepler within 1 au. Recently, hints of large-scale pebble migration have been found in the anticorrelation between the line ratio of water-to-other volatiles detected in medium-resolution (R ∼ 700) Spitzer/IRS spectra and the dust disk radius measured at millimeter wavelengths with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array. Here, we select three disks in Taurus that span the range of measured line flux ratios (a factor of ∼5) and dust disk radii (1 order of magnitude) and model their Spitzer/IRS spectra assuming gas in local thermodynamic equilibrium to retrieve the water column density in their inner disks. We find that, at the Spitzer/IRS resolution and sensitivity, large uncertainties in the retrieved column densities preclude resolving the expected difference of a factor of ∼5 in water abundance. Next, we simulate higher-resolution (∼3000) JWST/MIRI spectra at the signal-to-noise ratio of ∼100, which will be obtained via the Guaranteed Time and General Observation programs and apply the same retrieval approach used with Spitzer/IRS spectra. We show that the improved resolution and sensitivity of JWST/MIRI significantly reduce the uncertainties in the retrieved water column densities and will enable quantifying the difference in the inner water column of small versus large dust disks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number187
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing the Retrieval of Inner Disk Water Enrichment with Spitzer/IRS and JWST/MIRI'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this