AAS 198th Meeting, June 2001
Session 18. Protostellar Disks
Oral, Monday, June 4, 2001, 10:00-11:30am, C104

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[18.01] Hazards to Planet Formation

J. Bally (Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, U. Colorado, Boulder)

The Orion Nebula provides a remarkable window on the first few million years in the lives of typical young stars and planetary systems. HST has demonstrated that most young stars in the Nebula are surrounded by circumstellar disks (the so-called `proplyds'). While these observations show that planet forming environments may be common, they also demonstrate that Orion's disks are being destroyed by intense UV radiation fields. `Gravel' sufficiently large to resist photo-erosion (meter scale solids or ices) may lock-up sufficient material to eventually build rocky planets. Indeed, there is evidence for large solids in some proplyds. But, the hydrogen and helium needed for the formation of giant planets will be removed.

To form in Orion-like environments, giant planets must be assembled promptly prior to UV exposure. Even rocky planets may not form if the photoionized disk corona causes surviving large particles in the disk to spiral into the central star. Thus, nearby massive stars pose severe hazards to planet formation.

Star counts indicate that most stars form in Orion-like environments. Only about 10% of young stars are born in shielded environments such as the Taurus or L1641 clouds where disks may escape photo-erosion. In dark clouds, the majority of stars (> 80%) form in non-hierarchal multiple star systems where close encounters with sibling stars can destroy disks and eject young planets. Thus, most stars may never develop planetary systems. These considerations indicate that extra-Solar planets may be rare, contrary to the popular view. These conclusions are consistent with the recent discoveries of extra-Solar planets around a few percent of single stars.

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