Most stars and planetary systems form in environments where the UV radiation from massive stars is very strong. In order to really understand the observed demographics of planetary systems it is important to study the effect that these environments have on planet-forming disks. The problem is that massive star forming regions are rare, distant, and obscured by gas and dust making it difficult to detect the inner regions (< 10 au) of disks around solar-like stars, where planets like Earth are expected to form. Thanks to the unprecedented sensitivity of JWST, we are now able to do those very challenging observations. Within the eXtreme UV Environments (XUE) collaboration (PIs: Ramírez-Tannus & Bik) we aim to determine the physical and chemical properties of planet-forming disks in extreme environments.


XUE Image XUE: First Molecular inventory of an extremely irradiated Protoplanetary Disk
In the first paper of our collaboration, we present the detection of water, carbon dioxide and other complex molecules in the terrestrial planet-forming zone of a solar-like star located next to some of the most massive stars in the Galaxy. This is the first time that such molecules are detected under these conditions. This is unexpected and exciting, because it tells us that the conditions for planet formation and the ingredients for life are present even under these extreme conditions!
Image credit: Fortuna & Ramírez-Tannus 2023


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