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Dusty Planetary Systems

Author: Amaya Moro-Martin
Url: http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.0005
Format: Ps, Pdf
Year: 2012
Category: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
Pages: 61
Clicks: 851

Extensive photometric stellar surveys show that many main sequence stars show emission at infrared and longer wavelengths that is in excess of the stellar photosphere; this emission is thought to arise from circumstellar dust. The presence of dust disks is confirmed by spatially resolved imaging at infrared to millimeter wavelengths (tracing the dust thermal emission), and at optical to near infrared wavelengths (tracing the dust scattered light). Because the expected lifetime of these dust particles is much shorter than the age of the stars (> 10 Myr), it is inferred that this solid material not primordial, i.e. the remaining from the placental cloud of gas and dust where the star was born, but instead is replenished by dust-producing planetesimals. These planetesimals are analogous to the asteroids, comets and Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) in our Solar system. The presence of these "debris disks" around stars with a wide range of masses, luminosities, and metallicities, with and without binary companions, is evidence that planetesimal formation is a robust process that can take place under a wide range of conditions. This chapter is divided in two parts. Part I discusses how the study of these debris disks can help us learn about the formation, evolution and diversity of planetary systems by shedding light on: the frequency and timing of planetesimal formation, the location and physical properties of the planetesimals, the presence of long-period planets, and the dynamical and collisional evolution of the system. Part II reviews the physical processes that affect dust particles in the gas-free environment of a debris disk, like the Solar system's interplanetary space, and their effect on the dust particle size and spatial distribution; the discussion focuses on radiation and stellar wind forces, gravitational forces in the presence of planets, and grain collisions.

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