We present a Spitzer InfraRed Spectrometer search for 10-36 μm molecular emission from a large sample of protoplanetary disks, including lines from H2O, OH, C2H2, HCN, and CO2. This paper describes the sample and data processing and derives the detection rate of mid-infrared molecular emission as a function of stellar mass. The sample covers a range of spectral type from early M to A, and is supplemented by archival spectra of disks around A and B stars. It is drawn from a variety of nearby star-forming regions, including Ophiuchus, Lupus, and Chamaeleon. Spectra showing strong emission lines are used to identify which lines are the best tracers of various physical and chemical conditions within the disks. In total, we identify 22 T Tauri stars with strong mid-infrared H2O emission. Integrated water line luminosities, where water vapor is detected, range from 5 × 10-4 to 9 × 10-3 L sun, likely making water the dominant line coolant of inner disk surfaces in classical T Tauri stars. None of the five transitional disks in the sample show detectable gaseous molecular emission with Spitzer upper limits at the 1% level in terms of line-to-continuum ratios (apart from H2), but the sample is too small to conclude whether this is a general property of transitional disks. We find a strong dependence on detection rate with spectral type; no disks around our sample of 25 A and B stars were found to exhibit water emission, down to 1%-2% line-to-continuum ratios, in the mid-infrared, while more than half of disks around late-type stars (M-G) show sufficiently intense water emission to be detected by Spitzer, with a detection rate approaching 2/3 for disks around K stars. Some Herbig Ae/Be stars show tentative H2O/OH emission features beyond 20 μm at the 1%-2% level, however, and one of them shows CO2 in emission. We argue that the observed differences between T Tauri disks and Herbig Ae/Be disks are due to a difference in excitation and/or chemistry depending on spectral type and suggest that photochemistry may be playing an important role in the observable characteristics of mid-infrared molecular line emission from protoplanetary disks.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- September 2010
- protoplanetary disks;
- stars: pre-main sequence;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 19 pages, accepted for publication in ApJ