From Protoplanetary Disks to Exoplanets: Theory Confronts Observations

Zhaohuan Zhu

Princeton University

We are entering a golden era of study in the field of planet formation. Recently commissioned telescopes and instruments (e.g., Subaru, GPI, VLA, ALMA, EVLA) are now finally able to resolve the protoplanetary disk down to the scale of a planet's immediate assembly zone, and a rich variety of disk features have been revealed: gaps, large scale disk asymmetry, and spiral arms. Despite this progress on the observational front, theoretical models have yet to be developed that can reveal what these observations are telling us about the physics of disk structure and planet formation. In this talk, I will present my work on numerical simulations of planet-disk interaction, with an emphasis on understanding current observations. My simulations have not only successfully reproduced observed spiral arms, gaps and asymmetric features, but also constrained protoplanetary disk properties and revealed potential planets in these disks. To directly find young planets, I will suggest that disks around these forming planets, so-called circumplanetary disks, could be the key and we may have already found some circumplanetary disk candidates. Finally, I will discuss how the new generation of numerical codes and simulations I am working on are important for not only interpreting upcoming observations but also revealing fundamental physical processes in protoplanetary disks. Combining the new generation of observations and simulations, we may finally unveil the mystery of planet formation in the next decade.

Date: Mercredi, le 24 février 2016
Heure: 11:00
Lieu: Université de Montréal
  NOUVELLE SALLE - Pavillon Claire-McNicoll, local Z-330
Contact: Richard Leonelli