What can images of dusty disks tell us about extrasolar planets?
Images of dusty debris disks around nearby stars from the Hubble Space Telescope and ALMA show warps, rings, and other spectacular patterns. Some of these patterns are probably caused by known extrasolar planets or undetected extrasolar planets hidden in the dust. So dynamical models of these images can sometimes allow us to constrain the properties of the planets we see and find planets that would otherwise be hidden.
But adding a bit of gas to our dynamical models of debris disks-- too little gas to detect--seems to change the story. Small amounts of gas lead to new dynamical instabilities that may mimic the narrow eccentric rings and other structures planets would create in a gas-free disk. Can we still use disk patterns to find hidden exoplanets?
Location: Physics Bldg., Room 401