A parametric modeling approach to measuring the gas masses of circumstellar disks.
WILLIAMS J.P. and BEST W.M.J.
Abstract (from CDS):
The disks that surround young stars are mostly composed of molecular gas, which is harder to detect and interpret than the accompanying dust. Disk mass measurements have therefore relied on large and uncertain extrapolations from the dust to the gas. We have developed a grid of models to study the dependencies of isotopologue CO line strengths on disk structure and temperature parameters and find that a combination of 13CO and C18O observations provides a robust measure of the gas mass. We apply this technique to Submillimeter Array observations of nine circumstellar disks and published measurements of six well studied disks. We find evidence for selective photodissociation of C18O and determine masses to within a factor of about three. The inferred masses for the nine disks in our survey range from 0.7 to 6 MJup, and all are well below the extrapolation from the interstellar medium gas-to-dust ratio of 100. This is consistent with the low masses of planets found around such stars, and may be due to accretion or photoevaporation of a dust-poor upper atmosphere. However, the masses may be underestimated if there are more efficient CO depletion pathways than those known in molecular clouds and cold cores.