Detecting protoplanets with ALMA
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Theoretical investigations show that planet-disk interactions cause structures in circumstellar disks, which are usually much larger in size than the planet itself and thus more easily detectable. The specific result of planet-disk interactions depends on the evolutionary stage of the disk. Exemplary signatures of planets embedded in disks are gaps and spiral density waves in the case of young, gas-rich protoplanetary disks and characteristic asymmetric density patterns in debris disks. Numerical simulations convincingly demonstrate that high-resolution imaging performed with observational facilities which are already available or will become available in the near future will allow to trace these “fingerprints” of planets in protoplanetary and debris disks. These observations will provide a deep insight into specific phases of the formation and early evolution of planets in circumstellar disks.
In this context, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will play a crucial role by allowing to trace features in disks which are indicative for various stages of the formation and early evolution of planets in circumstellar disks.