Project P2: Sculpturing of debris disks by planets and companions (AIU/Jena)


The dust in debris disks acts as a signpost of the otherwise mostly hidden structure of planetary systems. Several features observed in scattered light or thermal emission are commonly attributed to perturbations by planetary or substellar companions. In the first 3-year period of the Research Unit we devised a model that allowed us to investigate the dust evolution under the action of secular gravitational perturbations combined with a full collisional cascade and drag forces. We showed how differential orbital precession drives azimuthal asymmetry. Based on these results we now aim for a refined understanding of three main stages. First, we will study a set of possible dynamical histories of the dust-producing planetesimal belts. Second, we will explore systematically the relations between model parameters and set-ups and predicted structure. Third, our findings and predictions from this and the previous period will be tested against characteristic features in observed disks. We will collaborate closely with P1 and P4 on observed and observable structures in debris disks. Our models will be adapted further to new results from the laboratory projects P5−P8.