Debris Disks: Probing Planet Formation
Wyatt, Mark C.
Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
arxiv: Astrophysics::Galaxy Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Cosmology and Extragalactic Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Earth and Planetary Astrophysics | Astrophysics::Solar and Stellar Astrophysics | Physics::Space Physics
Debris disks are the dust disks found around ~20% of nearby main sequence stars in far-IR surveys. They can be considered as descendants of protoplanetary disks or components of planetary systems, providing valuable information on circumstellar disk evolution and the outcome of planet formation. The debris disk population can be explained by the steady collisional erosion of planetesimal belts; population models constrain where (10-100au) and in what quantity (>1Mearth) planetesimals (>10km in size) typically form in protoplanetary disks. Gas is now seen long into the debris disk phase. Some of this is secondary implying planetesimals have a Solar System comet-like composition, but some systems may retain primordial gas. Ongoing planet formation processes are invoked for some debris disks, such as the continued growth of dwarf planets in an unstirred disk, or the growth of terrestrial planets through giant impacts. Planets imprint structure on debris disks in many ways; images of gaps, clumps, warps, eccentricities and other disk asymmetries, are readily explained by planets at >>5au. Hot dust in the region planets are commonly found (<5au) is seen for a growing number of stars. This dust usually originates in an outer belt (e.g., from exocomets), although an asteroid belt or recent collision is sometimes inferred.