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Can we detect super-Earths in proto-planetary discs?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Jean Teyssandier.

After the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1995 and the impressive expansion of the field, we now know that most main sequence stars possess a planetary system. In contrast, while we know that the formation environment of planets are the so-called proto-planetary discs, we still lack conclusive evidence for the presence of planets in them. With instruments such as ALMA and SPHERE we are entering an exciting era of high-resolution imaging which could finally bring this evidence. I will discuss the prospects for observing how super-Earths shape the proto-planetary disc. While the effect on the gas disc, that comprises most of the mass, is very limited, the impact is much stronger in the dust disc probed by observations, and in particular for the mm-grains observed by ALMA , due to the perturbations induced in the pressure profile of the disc by the planet. I’ll highlight in particular how there exists a minimum planet mass that is able to produce a pressure maximum outside its orbit, trapping dust and eventually creating a hole in the mm dust. Smaller grains can still break through the trap because of dust diffusion. Planet masses lower than the threshold can still affect the dust surface density, by creating traffic jams in the dust radial velocity. Finally, I will discuss how it is possible to have an estimate of the mass of the planet from the observations, highlighting in particular the dependence of the pressure maximum location on the planet mass.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Astro Lunch series.

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