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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Detecting the earliest stages of giant planet formation in scattered light

  • Author(s): Dong, Ruobing
  • Hartmann, Lee
  • Muto, Takayuki
  • et al.

Using Whitney’s Monte Carlo radiative transfer code, we simulate the near IR scattered light images in both intensity and polarized intensity for a series of axisymmetric protoplanetary disk models. By measuring the properties of the images, we study the detectability of both the disks and the features of giant planet formation at early stage (i.e. gaps opened by the planets) in real observations, and the connection between the detected disk structure and the intrinsic properties of the system. We use real point spread functions of the Subaru telescope to convolve the images, in order to synthesize realistic images with the smallest spatial resolution and inner working angle which ground based instruments can provide at present. In the models without gaps, the effects of the disk depletion factor, mass, and flareness on the images are investigated, while for the models with a gap, we focus on the dependence of the detectability of the gap on the gap position, width, and depletion factor. Qualitatively, the more massive and more flared the disk is, the brighter the disk is. The gap is only visible when the disk is visible, and the deeper and wider the gap is, the larger the contrast level of the gap is.

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