Astrophysics and Space Science

, Volume 313, Issue 1–3, pp 109–112 | Cite as

Detecting protoplanets with ALMA

  • Sebastian WolfEmail author
Open Access
Original Article


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.


Infrared excess Debris disks Protoplanetary disks Exo-zodiacal dust Extrasolar planetary systems 


  1. Augereau, J.C., Nelson, R.P., Lagrange, A.M., Papaloizou, J.C.B., Mouillet, D.: Dynamical modeling of large scale asymmetries in the beta Pictoris dust disk. Astron. Astrophys. 370, 447–455 (2001) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  2. Bryden, G., Chen, X., Lin, D.N.C., Nelson, R.P., Papaloizou, J.C.B.: Tidally induced gap formation in protostellar disks: gap clearing and suppression of protoplanetary growth. Astrophys. J. 514, 344–367 (1999) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Calvet, N., D’Alessio, P., Hartmann, L., Wilner, D., Walsh, A., Sitko, M.: Evidence for a developing gap in a 10 Myr old protoplanetary disk. Astrophys. J. 568, 1008–1016 (2002) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  4. Dent, W.R.F., Walker, H.J., Holland, W.S., Greaves, J.S.: Models of the dust structures around Vega-excess stars. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 314, 702–712 (2000) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  5. Goto, M., Usuda, T., Dullemond, C.P., Henning, T., Linz, H., et al.: Inner rim of a molecular disk spatially resolved in infrared CO emission lines. Astrophys. J. 652, 758–762 (2006) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Greaves, J.S., Holland, W.S., Moriarty-Schieven, G., Jenness, T., Dent, W.R.F., et al.: A dust ring around epsilon Eridani: analog to the young solar system. Astrophys. J. 506, L133–L137 (1998) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Greaves, J.S., Mannings, V., Holland, W.S.: The dust and gas content of a disk around the young star HR 4796A. Icarus 143, 155–158 (2000) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Hines, D.C., Backman, D.E., Bouwman, J., Hillenbrand, L.A., Carpenter, J.M., et al.: The formation and evolution of planetary systems (FEPS): discovery of an unusual debris system associated with HD 12039. Astrophys. J. 638, 1070–1079 (2006) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  9. Holland, W.S., Greaves, J.S., Zuckerman, B., Webb, R.A., McCarthy, C., et al.: Submillimetre images of dusty debris around nearby stars. Nature 392, 788–790 (1998) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  10. Holland, W.S., Greaves, J.S., Dent, W.R.F., Wyatt, M.C., Zuckerman, B., et al.: Submillimeter observations of an asymmetric dust disk around Fomalhaut. Astrophys. J. 582, 1141–1146 (2003) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  11. Kim, J.S., Hines, D.C., Backman, D.E., Hillenbrand, L.A., Meyer, M.R., et al.: Formation and evolution of planetary systems: cold outer disks associated with Sun-like stars. Astrophys. J. 632, 659–669 (2005) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  12. Kley, W.: Mass flow and accretion through gaps in accretion discs. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 303, 696–710 (1999) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  13. Koerner, D.W., Sargent, A.I., Ostroff, N.A.: Millimeter-wave aperture synthesis imaging of Vega: evidence for a ring arc at 95 AU. Astrophys. J. 560, L181–L184 (2001) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  14. Liou, J.-C., Zook, H.A.: Signatures of the giant planets imprinted on the Edgeworth–Kuiper Belt dust disk. Astron. J. 118, 580–590 (1999) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  15. Moro-Martín, A., Wolf, S., Malhotra, R.: Signatures of planets in spatially unresolved debris disks. Astrophys. J. 621, 1079–1097 (2005) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  16. Quillen, A.C., Blackman, E.G., Frank, A., Varnière, P.: On the planet and the disk of COKU TAURI/4. Astrophys. J. 612, L137–L140 (2004) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  17. Rice, W.K.M., Wood, K., Armitage, P.J., Whitney, B.A., Bjorkman, J.E.: Constraints on a planetary origin for the gap in the protoplanetary disc of GM Aurigae. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 342, 79–85 (2003) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  18. Rodmann, J.: Dust in circumstellar disks. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Heidelberg (2006) Google Scholar
  19. Schneider, G., Smith, B.A., Becklin, E.E., Koerner, D.W., Meier, R., et al.: NICMOS imaging of the HR 4796A circumstellar disk. Astrophys. J. 513, L127–L130 (1999) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  20. Silverstone, M.D., Meyer, M.R., Mamajek, E.E., Hines, D.C., Hillenbrand, L.A., et al.: Formation and evolution of planetary systems (FEPS): primordial warm dust evolution from 3 to 30 Myr around Sun-like stars. Astrophys. J. 639, 1138–1146 (2006) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  21. Weidenschilling, S.J.: The origin of comets in the solar nebula: a unified model. Icarus 127, 290–306 (1997) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  22. Weingartner, J.C., Draine, B.T.: Dust grain-size distributions and extinction in the Milky Way, Large Magellanic Cloud, and Small Magellanic Cloud. Astrophys. J. 548, 296–309 (2001) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  23. Wilner, D.J., Holman, M.J., Kuchner, M.J., Ho, P.T.P.: Structure in the dusty debris around Vega. Astrophys. J. 569, L115–L119 (2002) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  24. Wolf, S.: Signatures of planets and of their formation process in circumstellar disks. Habilitation Thesis, University of Heidelberg (2007) Google Scholar
  25. Wolf, S., D’Angelo, G.: On the observability of giant protoplanets in circumstellar disks. Astrophys. J. 619, 1114–1122 (2005) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  26. Wolf, S., Hillenbrand, L.A.: Model spectral energy distributions of circumstellar debris disks. I. Analytic disk density distributions. Astrophys. J. 596, 603–620 (2003) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  27. Wolf, S., Gueth, F., Henning, T., Kley, W.: Detecting planets in protoplanetary disks: a prospective study. Astrophys. J. 566, L97–L99 (2002) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  28. Wyatt, M.C., Dent, W.R.F.: Collisional processes in extrasolar planetesimal discs—dust clumps in Fomalhaut’s debris disc. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 334, 589–607 (2002) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  29. Zuckerman, B., Forveille, T., Kastner, J.H.: Inhibition of giant planet formation by rapid gas depletion around young stars. Nature 373, 494 (1995) CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for AstronomyHeidelbergGermany

Personalised recommendations