Sebastian WOLF : Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy
Prospects for detection of protoplanetsPlanets are expected to form in circumstellar disks, which are considered as the natural outcome of the protostellar evolution, at least in the case of low and medium mass stars. While a detailed picture of the evolution of the circumstellar environment, in particular of protoplanetary disks, has been developed, the planet formation process is still under discussion. Adequate constraints from observations are required in order to either verify or rule out existing hypotheses about proposed planet formation scenarios.
Theoretical investigations show that the planet-disk interaction causes structures in circumstellar disks, which are usually much larger in size than the planet itself and thus more easily detectable. The specific result of the planet-disk interaction depends on the evolutionary stage of the disk. Exemplary signatures of planets embedded in disks are gaps and spiral density waves in the case of young, gas-rich protoplanetary disks and characteristic asymmetric density patterns in debris disks. Numerical simulations convincingly demonstrate that high-resolution imaging performed with observational facilities which are already available or will become available in the near future will allow to trace these signatures of planets. These observations will provide a deep insight into specific phases of the formation and early evolution of planets in circumstellar disks.
Last modified: Mon Jul 10 11:15:09 2006