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Author Hughes, Alanna Meredith
Title Circumstellar disk structure and evolution through resolved submillimeter observations
book jacket
Descript 294 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 71-07, Section: B, page: 4294
Adviser: David J. Wilner
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Harvard University, 2010
Circumstellar disks provide the reservoirs of raw material and determine conditions for the formation of nascent planetary systems. This thesis presents observations from millimeter-wavelength interferometers, particularly the Submillimeter Array, that address the following outstanding problems in the study of protoplanetary disks: (1) constraining the physical mechanisms driving the viscous transport of material through the disk, and (2) carrying out detailed studies of "transitional" objects between the gas-rich protoplanetary and tenuous, dusty debris disk phases to better understand how gas and dust are cleared from the system. We study accretion processes in three complementary ways: using spatially resolved observations of molecular gas lines at high spectral resolution to determine the magnitude and spatial distribution of turbulence in the disk; using polarimetry to constrain the magnetic properties of the outer disk in order to evaluate whether the MRI is a plausible origin for this turbulence and investigating the gas and dust distribution at the outer disk edge in the context of self-similar models of accretion disk structure and evolution. The studies of transition disks use spatially resolved observations to study the detailed structure of the gas and dust in systems that are currently in the process of clearing material. We obtain snapshots of the inside-out clearing of gas and dust in several systems, and compare our observations with the theoretical predictions generated for different disk clearing mechanisms. Our observations are generally consistent with the characteristics predicted for viscous transport driven by the magnetorotational instability and disk clearing accomplished through the dual action of giant planet formation and photoevaporation by energetic radiation from the star
School code: 0084
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 71-07B
Subject Physics, Astrophysics
Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Alt Author Harvard University
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