Sunday, March 27, 2016

Collisional Dust as Exoplanet Markers in Protoplanetary Disks

Hiding in the Shadows II: Collisional Dust as Exoplanet Markers


Dobinson et al


Observations of the youngest planets (∼1-10 Myr for a transitional disk) will increase the accuracy of our planet formation models. Unfortunately, observations of such planets are challenging and time-consuming to undertake even in ideal circumstances. Therefore, we propose the determination of a set of markers that can pre-select promising exoplanet-hosting candidate disks. To this end, N-body simulations were conducted to investigate the effect of an embedded Jupiter mass planet on the dynamics of the surrounding planetesimal disk and the resulting creation of second generation collisional dust. We use a new collision model that allows fragmentation and erosion of planetesimals, and dust-sized fragments are simulated in a post process step including non-gravitational forces due to stellar radiation and a gaseous protoplanetary disk. Synthetic images from our numerical simulations show a bright double ring at 850 μm for a low eccentricity planet, whereas a high eccentricity planet would produce a characteristic inner ring with asymmetries in the disk. In the presence of first generation primordial dust these markers would be difficult to detect far from the orbit of the embedded planet, but would be detectable inside a gap of planetary origin in a transitional disk.

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