At least one in ten nearby Sun-like stars hosts a giant planet. A massive effort is underway to find more exoplanets, determine their key properties, and associate demographic trends with models of their formation. Ultimately the goal is to develop a robust theoretical framework grounded in this growing suite of empirical evidence that explains how different kinds of planets are made. That formation process is intimately tied to the initial conditions in the reservoirs of planet-building material - the disks around young stars. Our work focuses on interpreting high angular resolution observations of the gas and dust in disks at radio wavelengths to learn about the physical (densities, temperatures), material (grain sizes, turbulence), and chemical properties of these planetary nurseries.
Circumstellar Disk Studies with the SMA
Sean Andrews, Joanna Brown, Catherine Espaillat, Karin Oberg, Chunhua (Charlie) Qi, David Wilner
Jonathan Williams, Rita Mann, Meredith Hughes
Renzogram of SMA observations of 49 Ceti in the CO J = 2-1 line. The beam size is 1.0" x 1.2", and the position angle is -79 degrees. Countours are -3 x 37, 3 x 37, and 5 x 37 mJy beam-1 (the rms noise). The position of 49 Ceti is marked with a star symbol, while the green line indicates the position angle derived from Wahhaj et al. (2007) from mid-IR imaging. The contour colors indicate heliocentric line-of-sight velocities; the four distinct velocities shown are 9.0, 11.1, 13.2, 15.3 km s-1, in the order of bluest to reddest channel. No emission was detected outside this velocity range (Hughes, A. M. et al. 2008. "A Resolved Molecular Gas Disk around the Nearby A Star 49 Ceti", ApJ, 681, 626.).