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H. Jang-Condell (Carnegie Institution of Washington)
The temperature and density structure of passively accreting protoplanetary disks is set primarily by heating from stellar irradiation on the surface of the disk. Perturbations in the structure of a disk, such as clumping, gap-opening, dust-settling, or the presence of a forming planet, can create shadows and bright spots which in turn cool or heat the disk material, further perturbing the disk's structure. Gravitational compression from a protoplanet or planetary core embedded in a disk can produce a shadow at the planet's location. The resulting decrease in temperature can further compress the disk, enhancing the size of the shadowed region. We present models for this shadowing effect which iteratively calculate the density and temperature perturbations with radiative transfer in order to achieve self-consistency. We find that the shadows created by planet cores as small as 10 Earth masses may potentially be observable in thermal emission, given sufficient angular resolution and sensitivity -- by ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimeter Array), for example. If signatures of terrestrial-mass solid bodies are seen in protoplanetary disks, this would be validation of the core accretion scenario for planet formation.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.