The mass and dynamics of protoplanetary disks are dominated by molecular hydrogen (H2). However, observationally very little is known about the H2. In this paper, we discuss two projects aimed to constrain the properties of H2 in the disk's planet forming region (R<50AU). First, we present a sensitive survey for pure-rotational H2 emission at 12.278 and 17.035 μm in a sample of nearby Herbig Ae/Be and T Tauri stars using VISIR, ESO's VLT high-resolution mid-infrared spectrograph. Second, we report on a search for H2 ro-vibrational emission at 2.1228, 2.2233 and 2.2477 μm in the classical T Tauri star LkHα 264 and the debris disk 49 Cet employing CRIRES, ESO's VLT high-resolution near-infrared spectrograph.
VISIR project: none of the sources show H2 mid-IR emission. The observed disks contain less than a few tenths of MJupiter of optically thin H2 at 150 K, and less than a few MEarth at T>300 K. % and higher T. Our non-detections are consistent with the low flux levels expected from the small amount of H2 gas in the surface layer of a Chiang and Goldreich (1997) Herbig Ae two-layer disk model. In our sources the H2 and dust in the surface layer have not significantly departed from thermal coupling (Tgas/Tdust<2) and the gas-to-dust ratio in the surface layer is very likely <1000.
CRIRES project: The H2 lines at 2.1218 μm and 2.2233 μm are detected in LkHα 264. An upper limit on the 2.2477 μm H2 line flux in LkHα 264 is derived. 49 Cet does not exhibit H2 emission in any of observed lines. There are a few MMoon of optically thin hot H2 in the inner disk (∼0.1 AU) of LkHα 264, and less than a tenth of a MMoon of hot H2 in the inner disk of 49 Cet. The shape of the 1–0 S(0) line indicates that LkHα disk is close to face-on (i<35o). The measured 1–0 S(0)/1–0 S(1) and 2–1 S(1)/1–0 S(1) line ratios in LkHα 264 indicate that the H2 is thermally excited at T<1500 K. The lack of H2 emission in the NIR spectra of 49 Cet and the absence of Hα emission suggest that the gas in the inner disk of 49 Cet has dissipated.