Context. Recent ALMA surveys in different star-forming regions have shown that CO emission in protoplanetary discs is much fainter than expected. Accordingly, CO-based gas masses and gas to dust ratios are orders of magnitude lower than previously thought. This may be explained either as fast gas dispersal, or as chemical evolution and locking up of volatiles in larger bodies leading to the low observed CO fluxes. The latter processes lead to enhanced C/O ratios in the gas, which may be reflected in enhanced abundances of carbon-bearing molecules like C2H.
Aims: The goal of this work is to use C2H observations to understand whether low CO fluxes are caused by volatile depletion or by fast gas dissipation.
Methods: We present ALMA Cycle 4 C2H (N = 3-2, J = 7/2-5/2, F = 4-3 and F = 3-2) observations of a subsample of nine sources in the Lupus star-forming region. The integrated C2H emission is determined and compared to previous CO isotopologue observations and physical-chemical model predictions.
Results: Seven out of nine discs are detected in C2H, whose line emission is almost as bright as 13CO. All detections are significantly brighter than the typical sensitivity of the observations, hinting at a bimodal distribution of the C2H line intensities. This conclusion is strengthened when our observations are compared with additional C2H observations of other discs. When compared with physical-chemical models, the observed C2H fluxes can be reproduced only if some level of volatile carbon and oxygen depletion is allowed and [C]/[O] > 1 in the gas. Models with reduced gas-to-dust ratios near unity however fail to reproduce the observed C2H line luminosity. A steeper than linear correlation between C2H and CN emission line is found for the Lupus discs. This is linked to the fact that C2H emission lines are affected more strongly by [C]/[O] variations than CN lines. Ring-like structures are detected both in C2H and in continuum emission but, as for CN, they do not seem to be connected. The source Sz 71 shows ring-shaped emission in both C2H and CN with the location of the peak intensity coinciding, within our 30 au resolution.
Conclusions: Our new ALMA C2H observations favour volatile carbon and oxygen depletion rather than fast gas dispersal to explain the faint CO observations for most of the discs. This result has implications for disc-evolution and planet-formation theories, as disc gas masses may be larger than expected if CO is considered to be the main carbon carrier in the gas phase.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- November 2019
- protoplanetary discs;
- methods: observational;
- submillimeter: planetary systems;
- ISM: molecules;
- radiative transfer;
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- 11 pages, 12 figures, accepted for publication on A&