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Today's colloquium: Direct imaging of protoplanetary disks in scattered light

Submitter: Colloquium
Description: Speaker: Misato Fukagawa (Osaka university, Japan)

Circumstellar disks around pre-main-sequence stars are believed to be birthplaces of planets, and thus an investigation of disk properties is of primary importance to understand the process of planet building. Direct imaging of such protoplanetary disks provides valuable information on the distribution of disk material that may be linked to the presence of unseen planets. Imaging has been challenging due to small sizes of disks and high contrast ratios relative to the central stars. However, resolving the structure on about 10 AU or less spatial scales is now possible in near-infrared by employing adaptive optics even from the ground.

I present the recent effort to directly image protoplanetary disks using the Japanese Subaru telescope, focusing on disks around Herbig Ae stars. The images reveal the considerable diversity in disk structure such as spiral arms, inner holes, and gaps. These features are likely to be caused by evolutionary effects including planet building, as well as stellar multiplicity or initial disk mass. I also show some results of imaging polarimetry which is a powerful technique to detect scattered light and to study dust grains in the upper layers of protoplanetary disks.
Copyright: Misato Fukagawa
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