NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0093

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Proposal Information for 2011B-0093


PI: Christian Thalmann, University of Amsterdam, thalmann@uva.nl
Address: Anton Pannekoek Institute, University of Amsterdam, Science Park 904, 1098 XH Amsterdam, The Netherlands

CoI: Klaus Hodapp, University of Hawaii (IfA)
CoI: Joseph Carson, College of Charleston
CoI: Markus Janson, University of Toronto
CoI: Misato Fukagawa, Osaka University
CoI: Miwa Goto, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
CoI: Carol Grady, Eureka Scientific & GSFC
CoI: Jun Hashimoto, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
CoI: Thomas Henning, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
CoI: Mitsuhiko Honda, Kanagawa University
CoI: Michael W. McElwain, GSFC
CoI: Michiel Min, University of Utrecht
CoI: Gijs Mulders, University of Amsterdam
CoI: Motohide Tamura, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
CoI: John Wisniewski, University of Washington

Title: A Complete Image of the LkCa 15 Disk Gap

Abstract: One of the greatest open questions in present-day astrophysics is how planetary systems like ours form. In the quest for answers, transitional disks like the one surrounding the star LkCa 15 are of paramount importance. These protoplanetary disks featuring wide gaps in their central regions are thought to represent snapshots of a brief but critical stage in the formation of a planetary system in which the disk material is rapidly dissipated. Although a wealth of information can be gleaned from the spectral energy distribution of such a system, degeneracies remain that can only be broken by obtaining a direct image of the disk gap. Our observations of LkCa 15 with ground-based adaptive optics resulted in the first resolved imaging of a transitional disk. We propose a sequence of deep Gemini NIRI K-band observations sampling both short and long timescales to establish decisive, high-confidence images of the LkCa 15 disk gap, looking for temporal variability of disk features, attempting direct detection of planets, and measuring the reliability of our imaging technique. This would provide an improved understanding of this exciting system, and an important observational contribution to the field of planet formation.


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2011B-0093

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