The Composition of the Protosolar Disk and the Formation Conditions for Comets
Review article, 2015

Conditions in the protosolar nebula have left their mark in the composition of cometary volatiles, thought to be some of the most pristine material in the solar system. Cometary compositions represent the end point of processing that began in the parent molecular cloud core and continued through the collapse of that core to form the protosun and the solar nebula, and finally during the evolution of the solar nebula itself as the cometary bodies were accreting. Disentangling the effects of the various epochs on the final composition of a comet is complicated. But comets are not the only source of information about the solar nebula. Protostellar disks around young stars similar to the protosun provide a way of investigating the evolution of disks similar to the solar nebula while they are in the process of evolving to form their own solar systems. In this way we can learn about the physical and chemical conditions under which comets formed, and about the types of dynamical processing that shaped the solar system we see today. This paper summarizes some recent contributions to our understanding of both cometary volatiles and the composition, structure and evolution of protostellar disks.


Protostellar disks


Solar nebula


K. Willacy

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

C. Alexander

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

M. Ali-Dib

University of Franche-Comté

C. Ceccarelli

Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)

Grenoble Alpes University

S. B. Charnley

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

M. Doronin

Sorbonne University

Y. Ellinger

Sorbonne University

P. Gast

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

E. Gibb

University of Missouri

S. N. Milam

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

O. Mousis

Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille

F. Pauzat

Sorbonne University

C. Tornow

German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Eva Wirström

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

E. Zicler

Sorbonne University

Space Science Reviews

0038-6308 (ISSN) 1572-9672 (eISSN)

Vol. 197 1-4 151-190

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences



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