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Adventures with Dusty Discs

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While protoplanetary discs predominantly consist of gas, the component that is in solid form (i.e. ‘dust’, ~1% by mass) is receiving an increasing amount of attention for several reasons. First of all, observations at mm wavelengths trace thermal emission of dust particles, giving rise to spectacular high-resolution ALMA images, while gas is much more difficult to observe. Therefore, in order to get the complete picture of the state of the disc (both dust and gas), we have to reconstruct the gas density from the dust density, which involved knowing how dust is pushed around by the gas. Second, the solid component in the disc is what eventually forms terrestrial planets as well as the cores of giant planets, plus all the ‘leftover’ building blocks in the form of asteroids, Kuiper Belt objects, and dwarf planets. I will talk about some of the recent results we obtained in our group tackling dusty questions related to both observations and the theory of planet formation.

This talk is part of the DAMTP Astro Mondays series.

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