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Astrobiology with ALMA: mapping pre-biotic carbon compounds in proto-planetary disks

Grant number: 12/22075-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): December 08, 2012
Effective date (End): February 14, 2013
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Astronomy
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Janot Pacheco
Grantee:Eduardo Janot Pacheco
Host: Thierry Lanz
Home Institution: Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas (IAG). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : Université Nice Sophia Antipolis, France  

Abstract

Earth has been formed out of material from the proto-planetary disk (PPD) of the primeval solar system. It is reasonable to suppose that pre-biotic compounds were already present in the disk and that they have been incorporated into the planets during their formation. In order to understand the role of organic molecules ion the contamination of regions were life could form, it is mandatory to map the distribution of these molecules in young PPDs. If PPDs show a bi-phase structure, with simpler molecules in the inner regions, and complex molecules in outer regions, we can infer that complex compounds necessary for life are formed under more favorable conditions of temperature, turbulence and radiation level. We will also infer that molecules essential for life were already present in the disks from which planets are formed and contamination by comets is not needed. The only instrument capable of doing such a map is ESO's Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). We have asked for observing time with ALMA to try to make maps of young circunstelar disks in pre-biotic molecules. I have been the PI of the proposal, that gather researchers from IAG-USP, Cote d'Azur Observatory and University of Nice. In this project, we will prepare the observations with ALMA, work in data reduction and interpretation through code HDUST and will improve chemical and physical aspects of our disk model. (AU)