Decoding Dusty Debris Disks

Friday, 14 February 2014
Water Tower (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
David J. Wilner , Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA
Dusty debris disks result from the collisional erosion of planetesimals, the building blocks of planets, similar to asteroids and comets in our Solar System. The revolutionary capabilities of advanced radio telescopes are providing a new window on debris disks. The dust emission at millimeter wavelengths is dominated by large grains that are closely linked to the planetismals (and planets) through the collision process and gravitational interactions. unlike the tiny grains seen in the optical that are rapidly blown out by stellar radiation and winds. I will discuss the latest millimeter wavelength observations of debris disks around nearby stars, what these observations reveal about debris disk structure, and implications for planetary system formation and evolution.