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How and When Do Planets Form? The Inner Regions of Planet Forming Disks at High Spatial and Spectral Resolution
  • R Millan-Gabet, California Institute of Technology
  • John D Monnier, University of Michigan
  • Rachel Akeson, Caltech/NExSci
  • Chas Beichman, Caltech/NExSci
  • Sean D Brittain, Clemson University
  • Theo ten Brummelaar, Georgia State University
  • Nuria Calvet, University of Michigan
  • Josh Eisner, University of Arizona
  • Phil Hinz, University of Arizona
  • Hanna Jang-Condell, University of Maryland
  • Marc Kuchner, Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Fabien Malbet, LAOG, France
  • Sean Matt, AMES Research Center
  • Joan Najita, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
  • Sean Raymond, University of Colorado
  • Aki Roberge, Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Ajay Tannirkulam, University of Michigan
  • Neal Turner, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • David Wilner, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Document Type
Publication Date
Astro2010 Decadal Survey

The formation of planets is one of the major unsolved problems in modern astrophysics. Planets are believed to form out of the material in circumstellar disks known to exist around young stars, and which are a by-product of the star formation process. Therefore, the physical conditions in these disks - structure and composition as a function of stellocentric radius and vertical height, density and temperature profiles of each component - represent the initial conditions under which planets form. Clearly, a good understanding of disk structure and its time evolution are crucial to understanding planet formation, the evolution of young planetary systems (e.g. migration), and the recently discovered, and unanticipated, diversity of planetary architectures. However, the inner disk regions (interior to ~10 AU) most relevant in the context of planet formation are very poorly known, primarily because of observational challenges in spatially resolving this region. In this contribution we discuss opportunities for the next decade from spectrally and spatially resolved observations, and from direct imaging, using infrared long baseline interferometry.

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