EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 496, Number 3, March IV 2009
Page(s) 725 - 729
Section Interstellar and circumstellar matter
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/200810776
Published online 18 February 2009
A&A 496, 725-729 (2009)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/200810776

Research Note

Gas phase diagnostics of protoplanetary disc extension

B. Ercolano1, J. J. Drake2, and C. J. Clarke1

1  Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA, UK
    e-mail: [be;cclarke]@ast.cam.ac.uk
2  Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, MS-3, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge MA 02138, USA
    e-mail: jdrake@cfa.harvard.edu

Received 10 August 2008 / Accepted 28 October 2008

Aims. We investigate the potential of using ratios of fine structure and near-infrared forbidden-line transitions of atomic carbon to diagnose protoplanetary disc extension.
Methods. Using results from 2D photoionisation and radiative transfer modelling of a realistic protoplanetary disc structure irradiated by X-rays from a T Tauri star, we obtain theoretical emission maps from which we construct radial distributions of the strongest emission lines produced in the disc.
Results. We show that ratios of fine structure to near-infrared forbidden-line emission of atomic carbon are especially promising for constraining the minimum size of gaseous protoplanetary discs. While theoretically viable, the method presents a number of observational difficulties that are also discussed here.

Key words: accretion, accretion disks -- stars: planetary systems: protoplanetary disks -- line: formation

© ESO 2009