Observing Gap Opening by Planets


H. Jang-Condell


University of Maryland, NASA-GSFC


As embryonic planets grow in size, they begin to clear gaps in the protoplanetary disks in which they form. These gaps are observable over a wide spectrum of wavelengths because cooling in the shadow of the gap creates a distinct thermal and scattered light signature. The size and depth of the gap are correlated with the mass of the embedded planet, so although such planets may be too obscured to be directly imaged in scattered light images, its mass and orbit can still be determined. I will present models that can be applied to multi-wavelength disk observations to measure the masses of planets creating gaps in these disks. I will demonstrate the application of these models to disks observed with high contrast imaging that show signatures of gap formation. Age estimates of these disks constrain the time scales of planet formation and give a direct observational test of whether planets form quickly by gravitational instability or slowly by core accretion.

Attached documents

Lyot2010proc s4 talk Jang-CondellH.pdf
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