Cau Kiel Arbeitsgruppe "Stern- und Planetenentstehung"
Prof. Dr. Sebastian Wolf
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen
Impact of planetesimal eccentricities and material strength on the appearance of eccentric debris disks
M. Kim, S. Wolf, T. Löhne, F. Kirchschlager, and A. V. Krivov 2018 A&A, accepted.
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen

Abstract Since circumstellar dust in debris disks is short-lived, dust-replenishing requires the presence of a reservoir of planetesimals. These planetesimals in the parent belt of debris disks orbit their host star and continuously suppily the disk with fine dust through their mutual collisions. We aim to understand effects of different collisional parameters on the observational appearance of eccentric debris disks. These parameters are the eccentricity of the planetesimal belt, dynamical excitation, and the material strength. The collisional evolution of selected debris disk configurations was simulated with the numerical code ACE. Subsequently, selected observable quantities are simulated with our newly developed code DMS. The impact of the eccentricity, dynamical excitation, and the material strength is discussed with respect to the grain size distribution, the spectral energy distribution, and spatially resolved images of debris disk systems. The most recognizable features in different collisional evolutions are as follows. First, both the increase of dynamical excitation in the eccentric belt of the debris disk system and the decrease of the material strength of dust particles result in a higher production rate of smaller particles. This reduces the surface brightness differences between the periastron and the apastron sides of the disks. For very low material strengths, the "pericenter glow" phenomenon is reduced and eventually even replaced by the opposite effect, the "apocenter glow". In contrast, higher material strengths and lower dynamical excitation of the system result in an enhancement of asymmetries in the surface brightness distribution. Second, it is possible to constrain the level of collisional activity from the appearance of the disk, for example, the wavelength-dependent apocenter-to-pericenter flux ratio. Within the considered parameter space, the impact of the material strength on the appearance of the disk is stronger than that of dynamical excitation of the system. Finally, we find that the impact of the collisional parameters on the net spectral energy distribution is weak.

Constraints on observing brightness asymmetries in protoplanetary disks at solar system scale
R. Brunngräber and S. Wolf 2018, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 611, A90.
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen

Abstract We have quantified the potential capabilities of detecting local brightness asymmetries in circumstellar disks with the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) in the mid-infrared wavelength range. The study is motivated by the need to evaluate theoretical models of planet formation by direct observations of protoplanets at early evolutionary stages, when they are still embedded in their host disk. Up to now, only a few embedded candidate protoplanets have been detected with semi-major axes of 20-50 au. Due to the small angular separation from their central star, only long-baseline interferometry provides the angular resolving power to detect disk asymmetries associated to protoplanets at solar system scales in nearby star-forming regions. In particular, infrared observations are crucial to observe scattered stellar radiation and thermal re-emission in the vicinity of embedded companions directly. For this purpose we performed radiative transfer simulations to calculate the thermal re-emission and scattered stellar flux from a protoplanetary disk hosting an embedded companion. Based on that, visibilities and closure phases are calculated to simulate observations with the future beam combiner MATISSE, operating at the L, M and N bands at the VLTI. We find that the flux ratio of the embedded source to the central star can be as low as 0.5 to 0.6 % for a detection at a feasible significance level due to the heated dust in the vicinity of the embedded source. Furthermore, we find that the likelihood for detection is highest for sources at intermediate distances of about 2-5 au and disk masses not higher than 10-4 Msun.

Modelling of mid-infrared interferometric signature of hot exozodiacal dust emission
F. Kirchschlager, S. Wolf, R. Brunngräber, A. Matter, A. V. Krivov, A. Labdon 2017, MNRAS, Volume 473: 2633-2638.
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen

Abstract Hot exozodiacal dust emission was detected in recent surveys around two dozen main-sequence stars at distances of less than 1 au using the H- and K-band interferometry. Due to the high contrast as well as the small angular distance between the circumstellar dust and the star, direct observation of this dust component is challenging. An alternative way to explore the hot exozodiacal dust is provided by mid-infrared interferometry. We analyse the L, M and N bands interferometric signature of this emission in order to find stronger constraints for the properties and the origin of the hot exozodiacal dust. Considering the parameters of nine debris disc systems derived previously, we model the discs in each of these bands. We find that the M band possesses the best conditions to detect hot dust emission, closely followed by L and N bands. The hot dust in three systems – HD 22484 (10 Tau), HD 102647 (β Leo) and HD 177724 (ζ Aql) – shows a strong signal in the visibility functions, which may even allow one to constrain the dust location. In particular, observations in the mid-infrared could help to determine whether the dust piles up at the sublimation radius or is located at radii up to 1 au. In addition, we explore observations of the hot exozodiacal dust with the upcoming mid-infrared interferometer Multi AperTure mid-Infrared SpectroScopic Experiment (MATISSE) at the Very Large Telescope Interferometer.

3D radiative transfer of intrinsically polarized dust emission based on aligned aspherical grains
G. H.-M. Bertrang and S. Wolf 2017, MNRAS, Volume 469: 2869-2878.
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen

Abstract (Sub-)millimetre observations of the polarized emission of aligned aspherical dust grains enable us to study the magnetic fields within protoplanetary disc. However, the interpretation of these observations is complex. One must consider the various effects that alter the measured polarized signal, such as the shape of dust grains, the efficiency of grain alignment, the magnetic field properties and the projection of the signal along the line of sight. We aim at analysing observations of the polarized dust emission by disentangling the effects on the polarization signal in the context of 3D radiative transfer simulations. For this purpose, we developed a code capable of simulating dust grain alignment of aspherical grains and intrinsical polarization of thermal dust emission. We find that the influence of thermal polarization and dust grain alignment on the polarized emission displayed as spatially resolved polarization map or as spectral energy distribution trace disc properties that are not traced in total (unpolarized) emission such as the magnetic field topology. The radiative transfer simulations presented in this work enable the 3D analysis of intrinsically polarized dust emission – observed with e.g. Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) – which is essential to constrain magnetic field properties.

Magnetic fields in circumstellar disks: The potential of Zeeman observations
R. Brauer, S. Wolf and M. Flock 2017, accepted by Astronomy & Astrophysics
Aktuelle Veröffentlichungen

Context. Recent high angular resolution polarimetric continuum observations of circumstellar disks provide new insights into their magnetic field. However, direct constraints are limited to the plane of sky component of the magnetic field. Observations of Zeeman split spectral lines are a potential approach to enhance these insights by providing complementary information.

Aims. We investigate which constraints for magnetic fields in circumstellar disks can be obtained from Zeeman observations of the 113 GHz CN lines. Furthermore, we analyze the requirements to perform these observations and their dependence on selected quantities.

Methods. We simulate the Zeeman splitting with the radiative transfer (RT) code POLARIS (Reissl et al. 2016) extended by our Zeeman splitting RT extension ZRAD (Brauer et al. 2017), which is based on the line RT code Mol3D (Ober et al. 2015).

Results. We find that Zeeman observations of the 113 GHz CN lines provide significant insights into the magnetic field of circumstellar disks. However, with the capabilities of recent and upcoming instrument/observatories, even spatially unresolved observations would be challenging. Nevertheless, these observations are feasible for the most massive disks with a strong magnetic field and high abundance of CN/H. The most restrictive quantity is the magnetic field strength, which should be at least in the order of ∼1 mG. In addition, the inclination of the disk should be around 60º to preserve the ability to derive the line-of-sight (LOS) magnetic field strength and to obtain a sufficiently high circularly polarized flux.