NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0216

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0216


PI: William Herbst, Wesleyan University, wherbst@wesleyan.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, Middletown, CT, , 06459-0123, USA

CoI: Catrina Hamilton, Dickinson College
CoI: Holly Capelo, MPG-Gottingen
CoI: Reinhard Mundt, MPIA-Heidelberg
CoI: Joshua Winn, MIT
CoI: Chris Johns-Krull, Rice University
CoI: Diana Windemuth, Wesleyan University
CoI: Sandy Leggett, Gemini

Title: Planet Formation in the KH 15D Circumbinary Ring

Abstract: Planets have recently been discovered in circumbinary orbits. The first stage of terrestrial planet formation is grain growth and settling, but direct observation of this stage in the inner disk is challenging. No planet has yet been found in a T Tauri system and the time scale for giant planet formation is uncertain. The edge-on binary T Tauri system KH 15D provides a unique, but time-limited, opportunity to address these issues. KH 15D is a T Tauri binary system composed of a K1 and K7 star in a close, eccentric orbit viewed nearly edge-on. A thin circumbinary ring of solids has precipitated within the accretion disk and acts as a sharp-edged screen that occults the binary orbit. Precession has caused the screen to move slowly across the orbit, first fully covering and now slowly revealing the members. The time scale of the precession requires that the ring be truncated near 4AU, most likely by a giant planet. We propose to use GNIRS to determine the spectral characteristics of the red light component, possibly a giant planet, and to search for spectral signatures of the ring.


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