ALMA observations of the molecular gas in the debris disk of the 30 Myr old star HD 21997 [SSA]

The 30 Myr old A3-type star HD 21997 is one of the two known debris dust disks having a measurable amount of cold molecular gas. With the goal of understanding the physical state, origin, and evolution of the gas in young debris disks, we obtained CO line observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). Here we report on the detection of 12CO and 13CO in the J=2-1 and J=3-2 transitions and C18O in the J=2-1 line. The gas exhibits a Keplerian velocity curve, one of the few direct measurements of Keplerian rotation in young debris disks. The measured CO brightness distribution could be reproduced by a simple star+disk system, whose parameters are r_in < 26 AU, r_out = 138 +/- 20 AU, M_*=1.8 +0.5 -0.2 M_Sun, and i = 32.6 +/- 3.1 degrees. The total CO mass, as calculated from the optically thin C18O line, is about (4-8) x 10^-2 M_Earth, while the CO line ratios suggest a radiation temperature on the order of 6-9 K. Comparing our results with those obtained for the dust component of the HD 21997 disk from the ALMA continuum observations by Mo\’or et al., we conclude that comparable amounts of CO gas and dust are present in the disk. Interestingly, the gas and dust in the HD 21997 system are not co-located, indicating a dust-free inner gas disk within 55 AU of the star. We explore two possible scenarios for the origin of the gas. A secondary origin, which involves gas production from colliding or active planetesimals, would require unreasonably high gas production rates and would not explain why the gas and dust are not co-located. We propose that HD 21997 is a hybrid system where secondary debris dust and primordial gas coexist. HD 21997, whose age exceeds both the model predictions for disk clearing and the ages of the oldest T Tauri-like or transitional gas disks in the literature, may be a key object linking the primordial and the debris phases of disk evolution.

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Date added: Mon, 21 Oct 13