AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 11 Brown Dwarfs and Exoplanets
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[11.19] Chemistry of Extrasolar Cometary Systems: What Can ALMA Do?

K. E. S. Ford (DTM-CIW)

The detection of water vapor (Melnick et al. 2001) and OH (Ford et al. 2003) around the carbon-rich AGB star, IRC +10216, has been interpreted as evidence for the existence of an extrasolar cometary system orbiting IRC +10216. This interpretation is based on the expectation that no oxygen-bearing molecules other than CO, and small amounts of SiO and HCO+, would be found in such a carbon-rich environment. The cometary system in IRC +10216, analogous to the Solar System's Kuiper Belt, should be the source of all oxygen-bearing molecules other than CO, SiO or HCO+ detected around the star. We discuss the recent detection of formaldehyde (H2CO) in the circumstellar envelope of IRC +10216, based on observations with the IRAM 30m telescope (Ford et al. 2004). We will also discuss how the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) could improve upon these observations in IRC +10216, and how ALMA could contribute to our understanding of the chemical composition and spatial distribution of other extrasolar cometary systems.

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.