Astronomy Seminar: Resolving star and planet formation with ALMA

Disks around young stars are the sites of planet formation. As such, the physical and chemical structure of disks have direct impact on the formation of planetary bodies. The innermost disk regions are particularly interesting, due to the potential for planet formation. These are also the regions where winds, capable of affecting the disk build-up itself, are launched magnetically. Meanwhile, the only chance of forming a planetary system is around a star at a stage when its circumstellar disk still hosts a sufficient mass reservoir. Until very recently, we have lacked the facilities to provide the necessary observational constraints and insights into what is actually going on the smallest scales and during the earliest stages of solar system formation, meaning it is completely uncharted territory.

Within the framework of the “Resolving star formation with ALMA” program, we are targeting young disks and outflows with ALMA in its largest possible configuration (16 km baselines, yielding a resolution of 2-6 au) to examine the relation between early disk evolution, outflow launching, and star- and planet-formation. I will present an overview of the program, focusing on the most recent results. The first resolved images of outflow launching from a disk were reported towards the Class I source TMC1A. Since then, we have continued our observations towards TMC1A and in addition included the younger B335 system in the study. The observations allow us to constrain the structure of the disks, but also to constrain the launching mechanism and the properties of outflows on the smallest scales.