AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 10 Circumstellar Disks II
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-7:00pm, January 9, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[10.13] An HST/NICMOS Coronagraphic Imaging Survey of Protoplanetary and Debris Disks Through the Epochs of Planet-Building.

G. Schneider (Steward Observatory, Univ. of Arizona), HST/GO 10177 Team

During HST Cycle 13 we conducted a highly sensitive 52-target NICMOS coronagraphic circumstellar disk imaging survey. Our survey provides: (a) critically needed high resolution scattered-light imagery of protoplanetary and debris disks to assist in discriminating between proposed evolutionary scenarios in the epochs of planet-building, (b) a legacy of cataloged disk morphologies for interpreting mid- and far-IR SEDs (e.g., Spitzer) and (c) reliable, spatially resolved, photometry and flux density limits for non-detections. Our high-contrast scattered-light imagery yields, directly, the spatial distribution of the grains for disks detected within the sensitivity limits of our survey and which cannot be uniquely inferred from (longer-wavelength) spectral energy distributions alone. Asymmetries (e.g., warps, gaps, arc, spirals, rings, axial anisotropies, etc.) in the spatial distributions of dusty debris in evolved disks provide evidence for unseen co-orbital planetary-mass companions through their dynamical interactions with the disk grains. Spatially resolved flux-density limits for non-detections provide constraints to break degeneracies in possible disk geometries and compositions which are otherwise coupled in SED models of thermally emissive disks. We provide an overview of our survey, highlighted with results from both our YSO and debris disk targets. Support for this work was provided by NASA through grant number GO-10177 from STScI, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: gschneider@as.arizona.edu

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