A look into the birth cradles of planets with ALMA: signatures of planet formation in protoplanetary disks

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 11:30 am - 11:30 am EST

Astronomy Seminar Series

Nienke van der Marel, University of British Columbia

Successful exoplanet surveys in the last decade have revealed that planets are ubiquitous throughout the Milky Way, and show a large diversity in mass, location and composition. At the same time, new facilities such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and optical/infrared facilities including Gemini/GPI and VLT/SPHERE have provided us with sharper images than ever before of protoplanetary disks around young stars, the birth cradles of planets. The high spatial resolution has revealed unexpected structures in disks, such as rings, gaps, asymmetries and spiral arms, and the enormous jump in sensitivity has provided the tools for both large, statistically relevant surveys and deep, sensitive molecular line studies. These observations have revolutionized our view of planet formation, disk formation and disk evolution, bringing model simulations and observations closer to the same level of detail. In this talk I will discuss the current transformation in our understanding of planet formation and the next steps and challenges in connecting theory with exoplanet demographics and protoplanetary disk observations.

Nienke van der Marel works as a Banting fellow at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Victoria (BC, Canada). Her research focuses on planet formation in protoplanetary disks. Before Victoria, she worked as a Beatrice Watson Parrent Fellow at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu.  Nienke works with submillimeter interferometry data from ALMA, SMA and VLA. She analyzes both molecular line and continuum data through physical-chemical modeling with e.g. RADMC-3D and DALI. She is also involved in various projects on direct imaging of exoplanets, with Keck and Subaru on Mauna Kea.