Detection and Characterization of Extrasolar Planets through Mean-Motion Resonances: Simulations of Hypothetical Debris Disks
Tabeshian et al
The gravitational influence of a planet on a nearby disk provides a powerful tool for detecting and studying extrasolar planetary systems. Here we demonstrate that gaps can be opened in dynamically cold debris disks at the mean-motion resonances of an orbiting planet. The gaps are opened away from the orbit of the planet itself, revealing that not all disk gaps need contain a planetary body. These gaps are large and deep enough to be detectable in resolved disk images for a wide range of reasonable disk-planet parameters, though we are not aware of any such gaps detected to date. The gap shape and size are diagnostic of the planet location, eccentricity and mass, and allow one to infer the existence of unseen planets, as well as many important parameters of both seen and unseen planets in these systems. We present expressions to allow the planetary mass to be calculated from observed gap width and location.