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Exoplanet Science Seminar

The Origin and Evolution of Dust and Gas in Debris Disks
Presented by Christine Chen (Host: Wes Traub)
Space Telescope Science Institute

Wednesday, October 23, 2013
4:00 P.M. in 169-336

Debris disks are dusty, gas-poor disks around young stars, generated by collisions between parent bodies and/or sublimation of comets. The Spitzer Space Telescope has enabled photometric searches and detailed spectroscopic studies of thermal emission from dust in hundreds of debris disks at mid- to far-infrared wavelengths. These observations allow us: (1) to infer the spatial structure of dust in individual systems and determine how the dust grains are removed; (2) to measure the disk fraction (in young associations and moving groups) as a function of age, to constrain the mechanism that triggers collisions; and (3) to place constraints on the mass of circumstellar molecular hydrogen and therefore models for giant planet formation. In this talk, I will discuss the spatial structure and removal mechanisms of dust in debris disks, and constraints on the models for the formation of gas giants and the late-stages of solar system evolution. I will also describe outstanding questions about debris disk evolution that will be addressed using future ground- and space-based instruments.

Center for Exoplanet Science

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