Debris Disks around Main Sequence Stars - Dr. Brenda Matthews

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September 14, 2005 - A Long and Grinding Road: The Phenomenon of Debris Disks around Main Sequence Stars - Dr. Brenda Matthews, NRC-HIA


During the last phases of a star's formation, remnant solid material may agglomerate to form planetesimals in orbit within a disk around the parent star. Over time, due to forces of drag or the formation of large bodies (planets!), the planetesimals undergo collisions, returning them from larger bodies back to their previous micron scales of cosmic dust. These dusty "debris" disks are once again observable because the small dust grains both emit radiation at submillimetre wavelengths and scatter optical and infrared light from the star.

Discovered unexpectedly in 1983 around Vega, debris disks are now sought using telescopes over a large range of wavelength; the presence of a debris disk can be a harbinger of planet formation around very young stars. I will present a history of this young research field, including images of disks detected around the lowest mass stars and optical images from the Hubble Telescope.

02.26.2004 - Astronomers find nearest and youngest star with a dusty debris disk. But are there planets


bulletPhD from McMaster University 2001
bulletBIMA Postdoc at UC Berkeley 2001-2004
bulletcurrently Plaskett Fellow at Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics, Victoria

My background is primary in short wavelength radio astronomy (submm/mm). My research focuses on star formation, particularly the role of magnetic fields in support of molecular clouds and protostars, and the kinematics and chemistry of protostars. In addition, I am involved in the search for debris disks, remnants of star formation which can be signposts of planet formation around young stars. I was involved in the first discoveries of debris disks around the low mass M stars.


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