RG Research: Circumstellar Disks and Planet Formation

At least 1 in 10 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.


Sean Andrews, Catherine Espaillat, Jan Forbrich, Meredith Hughes, Charles Lada, Karin Oberg, Chunhua (Charlie) Qi, Tom Robitaille, David Wilner
  dust emission figure

Dust emission from the disk around the nearby young star LkCa 15, as observed by the Submillimeter Array at 880 microns. The ring-like emission morphology may be the result of tidal interactions with faint companion bodies, potentially even very young exoplanets. (image credit: S. M. Andrews)


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