Imaging the planet-forming zone in protoplanetary disks with infrared+sub-millimeter interferometry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Star and planet formation is one of the most active and exciting research areas of modern astrophysics. Many of the open questions in this field are related to the structure and physics of the innermost regions of protoplanetary disks, where material is transported onto the forming star, ejected in powerful jets & outflows, or accreted onto newly-formed planets. However, most of the aforementioned processes take place on astronomical unit-scales very close to the star, which has prevented a direct investigation with imaging observations so far. The aim of this project is to employ the new opportunities provided by infrared and sub-millimeter interferometry in order to explore the terrestrial planet-forming zone in protoplanetary disks for the first time with direct imaging. The obtained images will reveal the fundamental inner disk structure and allow us to search for planet-related disk surface structures, such as tidally cleared gaps or the hot accretion region around young, embedded protoplanets. Combining interferometric observations at infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths will allow us to determine the temperature & density distribution and dust composition in the inner disk. This approach will result in an unprecedented global view on the structure and physical processes in protoplanetary disks and help us to understand how planets are forming and how they interact with the disk material during their early evolution.

Planned Impact

In order to maximize the impact of my reserch, I consider public engagement and outreach activities an integral part of my role as scientist. Such activities provide an important feedback to the society and can fuel young people's interest in science. In order to communicate my scientific results to the wider public, I will interact with the press, for instance through press releases, as done in several of my earlier PI projects. In addition, I gave interviews that were broadcasted internationally on radio and wrote articles in popular-scientific magazines. To reach local communities with my public engagement activities, I gave talks in public talk series, helped organizing stargazing nights, and presented my work at amateur astronomy meetings. Working in the UK, I will continue and further intensify these activities and coordinate them with the Exeter Astrophysics and Applied Mathematics groups that have already established a regular programme for schools visits, public open evenings, and other outreach events. I would like to note that my research is particularly well suited for such purposes, as it will result in direct images of the terrestrial planet-forming zone of protoplanetary disks, about 100 times sharper than those obtained with conventional techniques. Providing a glimpse into the past of our own planetary system, these images will capture the imagination of the wider public.

Publications

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Garcia Lopez R (2015) Investigating the origin and spectroscopic variability of the near-infrared H i lines in the Herbig star VV Ser in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Garatti A (2015) INVESTIGATING 2MASS J06593158-0405277: AN FUor BURST IN A TRIPLE SYSTEM? in The Astrophysical Journal

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Kraus S (2016) V346 Normae: first post-outburst observations of an FU Orionis star in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters

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Kreplin A (2016) Resolving the inner disk of UX Orionis in Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Kreplin A (2018) On the Br? line emission of the Herbig Ae/Be star MWC 120 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Kreplin A (2020) First NIR interferometrically resolved high-order Brackett and forbidden Fe lines of a B[e] star: V921 Sco in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description The aim of the project was to study protoplanetary discs with near-infrared and sub-millimeter interferometry. Our near-infrared studies focussed on the stars UX Orionis (Kreplin et al. 2016) and MWC120 (Kreplin et al., accepted). For the star V1247 Orionis, we could combine near-infrared aperture masking interferometry and SMA sub-millimeter interferometry (Willson et al., submitted), which resulted in tight constraints on the gapped geometry of the disc around that object. We analysed infrared and sub-millimeter interferometry data sets that we recorded with SMA and ATCA on three high-mass protostars that reveal compact discs and outflows (Kraus et al., in preparation) and recorded ALMA data on some of these sources.
Exploitation Route Our studies can be taken forward with the various high-angular resolution imaging instruments that are just becoming available, including VLTI/MATISSE and ALMA, both to study low-mass and high-mass young stars.
Sectors Other

URL http://www.skraus.eu
 
Description Press release on ALMA results 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press release
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_615036_en.html
 
Description Virtual Reality video on YouTube 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact YouTube video "Take a Virtual Reality tour of six REAL exoplanets (4K, 360° VR experience) ", was viewed 914,000 times between September 22, 2017 and March 10, 2018. It received 5200 likes so far.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhLExhpXX0E