Seminar

Accretion and the Structure of Protoplanetary Disks

Accretion plays a crucial role in setting the temperature and density structure of protoplanetary disks, although the extent of its influence is not well understood. Highly variable emission from accretion shocks on the stellar surface may induce rapid changes in the size and shape of the very inner dust disk. Accretion driven turbulence in the outer disk may inhibit planetesimal growth by preventing dust grains from settling to the midplane or enhance planetesimal growth within localized turbulent vortices. I will discuss recent observations suggesting that variability in the structure of the inner disk, as seen in daily to weekly fluctuations in infrared emission, is correlated, although may not be driven by, changes in the accretion rate onto the star. I will also present preliminary measurements of the strength of the turbulence in the outer disk of a nearby young star aimed at constraining its influence on planet formation.

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