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Witnessing the Assembly of Planetary Systems

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Can Cui.

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) has granted us the sharpest view of protoplanetary disks, the planet formation environment, to date. These disks are reservoirs of planet-forming material and have been found to host a stunning variety of substructure. Gaps, rings and spirals are routinely observed in the distribution of large dust grains, suggestive of dynamical processing by an unseen population of recently formed planets. I will demonstrate how through studies of the gas structure, in concert with the development of new data analysis techniques, I have been able to detect the young planets responsible for the structure we have seen in the dust. I will show how we are now able to conduct a thorough chemical inventory of the planet forming material, and trace the delivery of these materials to young planets during the accretion of their atmospheres. Finally, I will highlight how the mapping of the disk’s dynamical structure is providing a unique opportunity to identify the hydrodynamical processes that are driving planet formation and influencing the global evolution of the protoplanetary disks. To conclude, I will discuss the future of these studies, detailing how upcoming observational facilities and large-scale numerical simulations will enable us to characterize the entire planet formation process, a process that will provide essential context for the study of mature planets, both those within our Solar System and those further afield.

This talk is part of the Exoplanet Seminars series.

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