AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 8 UV/Optical Universe at Ultra-High Angular Resolution
Topical Realted Poster, Monday, May 31, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Ballroom

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[8.04] The Evolution of Planetary Systems: Ultra-High Angular Resolution and Contrast Imaging and Spectral Imaging with VLST and SI

C.A. Grady (Eureka Scientific and GSFC), Bruce Woodgate (NASA's GSFC)

Protoplanetary disks are where planets form, migrate to their final orbits, and where the pre-biotic materials that can ultimately produce life-bearing worlds are assembled or produced. We need to understand them, how they interact with their central stars, and their evolution both to reconstruct the Solar System's history, and to account for the observed diversity of exo-planetary systems. An increasing body of evidence suggests that for 0.7-2.0 solar mass stars central clearing of the disk is not linked to the evolution of the star, but may be tied to formation of planets within the disk. The earliest manifestation of the presence of such bodies is likely to be changes in the mass accretion rate onto the star, the mass loss geometry from the star, and the development of dynamically sculpted cavities in the inner disk. While HST can detect the presence of 10 AU-scale cavities at d=100 pc, such as the one around HD 100546, mapping the interior structure of the cavity, directly detecting gas giants or terrestrial planets resident in the cavity, mapping the portion of the disk where chemistry occurs, and probing the geometry of the accretion flow and the stellar wind all require higher resolution and in some cases, contrast, than HST can provide. We discuss the potential for probing the planetary region of young circumstellar disks with a 10-30m UV/Optical telescope such as VLST equipped with a coronagraph and integral field spectrometer and the region from the dust sublimation radius in to the inner edge of the disk with a 20-500 m UV/Optical interferometer such as Stellar Imager.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: cgrady@echelle.gsfc.nasa.gov

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