We present here a few thoughts on how high-angular resolution observations can give clues to some properties of protoplanetary disks that are fundamental to theories of planet formation. High-angular resolution infrared spectroscopy, either with a large single mirror telescope, or by using infrared interferometry, allows us to probe the abundance of thermally processed dust in the disk as a function of distance to the star. We show that this radial abundance profile can give information about the early evolution of the protoplanetary disk as well as about the nature of the turbulence. Since turbulence is one of the main ingredients in theories of planet formation, this latter result is particularly important. We also show that Nature itself provides an interesting way to perform high-angular resolution observations with intermediate-angular resolution telescopes: if a disk has a (nearly) edge-on orientation and is located in a low-density ambient dusty medium, the disk casts a shadow into this medium, as it blocks the starlight in equatorial direction. We argue how these shadows can be used to characterize the dust in the disk.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)