Terrestrial planets and the cores of giant planets are thought to be built by the collisional agglomeration of solids spanning over 20 orders of magnitude in size within a few million years. However, there is tension between this basic picture of planet formation and standard theoretical assumptions associated with the migration of “pebbles" (∼mm/cm-sized particles) from the gaseous disks and presumably much longer timescales necessary to assemble (∼km-scale) “planetesimals". To confront these potential theoretical discrepancies with observational constraints, the ideal tracer of the solids concentrated in protoplanetary disk substructures is the 30-100 GHz continuum, which strikes the best balance in sensitivity (emission still bright), optical depth (low enough to reliably estimate densities), and angular resolution (high enough to resolve fine-scale features at disk radii as small as 1 au). With its combination of sensitivity, frequency coverage and angular resolution, the next-generation VLA will be only facility that has the capabilities to open up this new window into physics of planetesimal formation.
Science with a Next Generation Very Large Array
- Pub Date:
- December 2018