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Ingredients of the planet-formation puzzle

High-angular-resolution observations of the circumstellar material have uncovered numerous and very diverse substructures in protoplanetary discs, raising the question of whether they are caused by forming planets or other mechanisms.

L.B. W├Âlfer
28 March 2023
Thesis in Leiden Repository

This dissertation focuses on interpreting gas substructures in discs in the context of disc winds and planet-disc interactions. A special focus is put on transition discs, which show dust (and gas) depleted inner regions and represent ideal laboratories to observe planet formation in action and test disc evolution models. Radiative transfer and hydrodynamical models are combined to investigate photoevaporative winds acting in discs in which volatile carbon is reduced. Compared to solar metallicity discs, photoevaporative winds are stronger in such carbon-depleted discs, resulting in higher mass-loss rates and profiles that extend to larger radii. This may explain more of the observed transition disc population. Furthermore, a large number of transition discs are analysed through CO ALMA observations in terms of substructures in the kinematics and brightness temperatures. In particular, two sources, CQ Tau and HD 100546, are studied in detail and the analysis reveals prominent spiral features in both discs. Together with other substructures, these point towards ongoing planet formation.

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