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Paper: Tracing the Water Snowline in Protoplanetary Disks with the ngVLA
Monograph: 7, Science with a Next Generation Very Large Array
Page: 209
Authors: Zhang, K.; Bergin, E. A.; Williams, J. P.; Pinilla, P.; Andrews, S. M.
Abstract: The water snowline in protoplanetary disks is one of the most pivotal locations for planet formation: it sets a critical boundary of chemical composition in the disk and likely serves as a favorable site of planetesimal growth and planet formation. However, the water snowline at the mid-plane cannot be directly traced by water line observations as the dust emission around the water snowline is highly optically thick at these line frequencies. Alternatively, the water snowline may be traced through the sharp changes in physical properties (surface density and dust size distribution) at this transition or through the snowlines of other molecules that sublimate co-spatially with water. In this chapter, we discuss the ngVLA's capability of tracing the mid-plane water snowline through mapping sharp transitions in the continuum spectral index caused by changes of dust size distributions and by using the NH3 snowline as a proxy. We found that with the current design of the ngVLA, a sharp transition in spectral index across the water snowline can be readily traced in relatively bright disks. A detection of the NH3 snowline is challenging under the current design, but may still be possible if the NH3-to-water abundance in the disk is close to that of the ISM ices. In summary, the proposed ngVLA is the only facility that can provide sufficient sensitivity and spatial resolution to trace the evolution of water snowline at the disk mid-plane and to reveal its role in accelerating the planetesimal formation and in building the architecture of planetary systems.
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