Observational Planet Formation

Nearly every single Sun-like star in our galaxy hosts a planetary system. How planets form in gaseous protoplanetary disks surrounding newborn stars is among the most exciting and fastest growing fields in all of astrophysics. The best way to learn how planets form from observations is to directly watch them forming in disks. By definition, this is the most direct way for us to quantitatively constrain the timescale, the location, the local environment, and the statistics of planet formation. In the past, this was difficult due to a lack of observational capabilities; as such, planet formation was largely a subject of pure theoretical astrophysics. Now, thanks to a fleet of new instruments with unprecedented resolving power that have come online recently, such as ALMA, GPI, and SPHERE, we have just started to unveil features in resolve images of protoplanetary disks, such as gaps and spiral arms, that are most likely associated with embedded (unseen) planets. By comparing observations with theoretical models of planet-disk interactions, the masses and orbits of these still forming planets may be constrained. Such planets help us directly test various planet formation models. This marks the onset of a new field — observational planet formation. I will introduce the current status of the field in both observations and modeling, and highlight a few latest major advances.

I am the Bart Bok Fellow at Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona. Previously I was a NASA Hubble Fellow at UC Berkeley. I did my Ph.D. in astrophysics at Princeton University, and my B.S. in physics at Peking University. I work on the general topic of exoplanet; specifically, how do they form.
Dr. Ruobing Dong Univ. of Arizona / Univ. of Victoria
2017-11-14 14:00:00
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