Disk Evolution, Dispersal and Planet Formation

We propose theoretical investigations of protoplanetary disk evolution and dispersal to study how the spatial and temporal distribution of gas and solids in disks affect their planet-forming potential. We will determine the properties of disks and host stars that are most favorable to the formation of planetary systems by conducting a parameter survey using our theoretical models. These will include stellar mass, stellar X-ray and UV luminosities, level of ionization in the disk, disk initial angular momentum, gas to dust mass ratio and dust physical and chemical properties. We will apply our thermochemical models of disks to observations of gas emission lines obtained with missions such as Spitzer, Herschel and SOFIA, supplemented with ground-based data. These models will help us interpret the observational data and infer disk characteristics relevant to planet formation. We will further investigate the feedback between planet formation and disk evolution, as the depletion of solids due to planet formation and the dynamical effects of embedded planets are expected to impact disk survival times. We will also use results on planetary properties and statistics from the Kepler mission and other exoplanet surveys to guide our theories of disk evolution and planet formation.