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Today's Colloquium: Characterizing the Epoch of Planet Formation in Circumstellar Disks

Submitter: Laura Perez
Description: Planet formation is a natural outcome of the star formation process. With the advent of sensitive observations -- particularly of circumstellar disks at radio wavelengths -- and together with developments in theory, rapid progress is being made in understanding how planet formation proceeds. In this talk, I will discuss three projects to observationally characterize the assembly of planetary systems in circumstellar disks.

First, I will present results from an observational program aimed at tracing the growth and migration of solids in disks; one of the first steps toward forming terrestrial planets and the rocky cores of gas giants. The systems studied reveal that larger particles are segregated to the inner disk regions, consistent with theoretical barriers that limit further growth.

Second, I will discuss a possible solution to the posited barriers for growth: regions of local pressure maxima that can efficiently trap grains and create appropriate conditions for further evolution of solids. I will present recent ALMA observations that reveal large-scale asymmetries in the solid distribution of material within the disk, and which may be the observational signature of these regions.

Third, I will discuss observational constraints obtained from recent ALMA and VLA observations that resolve the structure of disks with dust-depleted cavities, in both gas and solid components. This program aims to test theoretical predictions for disk structure during the epoch of planet formation: the expected radial segregation by particle size and the expected difference in cavity size as traced by dust and gas emission.

Finally, I will conclude with new avenues of observational work aimed at directly witnessing the hallmarks of planet formation, particularly with ALMA and next-generation facilities.
Copyright: Laura Perez
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