AAS 202nd Meeting, May 2003
Session 24 When Do Planets Form?
Topical Oral, Tuesday, May 27, 2003, 8:30-10:00am and 10:45am-12:30pm, 204

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[24.13] A SIRTF-IRS study of evolution in protostellar, protoplanetary and debris disks

D.M. Watson (University of Rochester), IRS Disks SIRTF Guaranteed-time Observation Team

The next adventure on our way to an understanding of the origin of planetary systems will be the observation of the evolution of structure and composition in protoplanetary disks, on the scales of terrestrial-planetary orbits, during the time that planets form. This is a study to which SIRTF may contribute decisively. In particular, the SIRTF Infrared Spectrograph (IRS) covers the 5-40 micron range, and can thus give information on composition and structure of protoplanetary disks in the crucial 0.1-10 AU radial range. The sensitivity of the instrument is such that even the disks around substellar objects are detectable, for objects within a few hundred parsecs of the solar system. Here we will describe a SIRTF guaranteed-time observing program that exploits these capabilities of the IRS, called IRS_Disks. In this program we will acquire complete IRS spectra of some 650 targets, most selected from clusters with ages determined carefully to lie in the range 1-100 Myr, and the rest comprising main-sequence objects with mid-infrared excesses. The younger part of the sample covers star-disk systems with the full run of stellar masses, and includes several targets thought to be brown dwarfs with disks. With these observations we hope to classify and identify, for the first time, the stages of development of disks from birth through the establishment of planetary systems, and to study the influences on this process of several effects of the host stellar system and of the environment in which the disk system formed.

IRS_Disks is a collaboration of sixteen astronomers from the IRS and IRAC SIRTF instrument teams, the SIRTF project team, and the SIRTF science center.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.