THE E-ELT DESIGN REFERENCE MISSION - SCIENCE CASE S9
Imaging the planet-forming regions of circumstellar disks
We propose to investigate the spatial structure of circumstellar disks via direct near- and mid-IR imaging with the E-ELT. The goal is to search for gaps and non-axisymmetric structure such as spirals and hotspots in the young and more mature disks indicative of ongoing or completed planet formation. In particular, it is important to reach as far as possible into the zone where putative terrestrial-mass habitable planets may be forming or have already formed. The key E-ELT requirements will be near-diffraction limited spatial resolution at 1-20 microns, with core wavelengths 2-10 micron. A diffraction-limited 42m telescope will yield a linear resolution of 2 AU at 150 parsecs, allowing access to young disks in nearby star-forming regions as seen in scattered light. Similar resolution will be achieved at 10 microns out to 30 parsecs for imaging of self-emission from dust in debris disks around nearby stars.
Dynamics and chemical evolution of circumstellar disks
We propose near- and mid-infrared (2-20 microns) spectroscopy of circumstellar disks, in order to study the internal dynamics and the chemical processing of dust, gas, and ices in young circumstellar disks. These observations would ideally be carried out via near-diffraction limited integral-field imaging covering a FOV of 2-5 arcsec.
Project Science Team
Phase B (2006 – 2011)