Azimuthal C/O Variations in a Planet-Forming Disk

Luke S Keyte, Mihkel Kama, Alice S Booth, Edwin A Bergin, L. Ilsedore Cleeves, Ewine F van Dishoeck, Maria N Drozdovskaya, Kenji Furuya, Jonathan Rawlings, Oliver Shorttle, Catherine Walsh

The elemental carbon-to-oxygen ratio (C/O) in the atmosphere of a giant planet is a promising diagnostic of that planet’s formation history in a protoplanetary disk. Alongside efforts in the exoplanet community to measure C/O in planetary atmospheres, observational and theoretical studies of disks are increasingly focused on understanding how the gas-phase C/O varies both with radial location and between disks. This is mostly tied to the icelines of major volatile carriers such as CO and H2O. Using ALMA observations of CS and SO, we have unearthed evidence for an entirely novel type of C/O variation in the protoplanetary disk around HD 100546: an azimuthal variation from a typical oxygen-dominated ratio (C/O?0.5) to a carbon-dominated ratio (C/O>1.0). We show that the spatial distribution and peculiar line kinematics of both CS and SO molecules can be well-explained by azimuthal variations in the C/O ratio. We propose a shadowing mechanism that could lead to such a chemical dichotomy. Our results imply that tracing the formation history of giant exoplanets using their atmospheric C/O ratios will need to take into account time-dependent azimuthal C/O variations in a planet’s accretion zone