Saturday, December 24, 2016

Imaging Protoplanets in Transition Disks


Sallum et al


Transition disks, protoplanetary disks with inner clearings, are promising objects in which to directly image forming planets. The high contrast imaging technique of non-redundant masking is well posed to detect planetary mass companions at several to tens of AU in nearby transition disks. We present non-redundant masking observations of the T Cha and LkCa 15 transition disks, both of which host posited sub-stellar mass companions. However, due to a loss of information intrinsic to the technique, observations of extended sources (e.g. scattered light from disks) can be misinterpreted as moving companions. We discuss tests to distinguish between these two scenarios, with applications to the T Cha and LkCa 15 observations. We argue that a static, forward-scattering disk can explain the T Cha data, while LkCa 15 is best explained by multiple orbiting companions.

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