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Based on a large number of observations carried out in the last decade it appears that the fraction of stars with protoplanetary disks declines steadily between ~1 Myr and ~10 Myr. We do, however, know that the multiplicity fraction of star-forming regions can be as high as >50% and that multiples have reduced disk lifetimes on average. As a consequence, the observed roughly exponential disk decay can be fully attributed neither to single nor binary stars and its functional form may need revision. Observational evidence for a non-exponential decay has been provided by Kraus et al. (2012), who statistically correct previous disk frequency measurements for the presence of binaries and find agreement with models that feature a constantly high disk fraction up to ~3 Myr, followed by a rapid (≲2 Myr) decline.
We present results from our high angular resolution observational program to study the fraction of protoplanetary disks of single and binary stars separately. We find that disk evolution timescales of stars bound in close binaries (<100 AU) are significantly reduced compared to wider binaries. The frequencies of accretors among single stars and wide binaries appear indistinguishable, and are found to be lower than predicted from planet forming disk models governed by viscous evolution and photoevaporation.
The IAU Working Group on Extrasolar Planets (WGESP) was created by the Executive Council as a Working Group of Division III. This decision took place in June 1999, that is only 7 years after the discovery of planets around the pulsar PSR B1257+12 and 4 years after the discovery of 51 Peg b. This working group was renewed for 3 years at the General Assembly in 2003 in Sydney, Australia. It was chaired by Alan Boss from Carnegie Institution of Washington. The WGESP members were Paul Butler, William Hubbard, Philip Ianna, Martin Kürster, Jack Lissauer, Michel Mayor, Karen Meech, Francois Mignard, Alan Penny, Andreas Quirrenbach, Jill Tarter, and Alfred Vidal-Madjar.
The International Astronomical Union's Commission 51 was established in 1982 as\break “Bioastronomy: Search for Extraterrestrial Life”. As the interests of Commission members expanded to include all aspects of the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe, C51 was renamed simply “Bioastronomy” in 2006. Thus, the term “bioastronomy” became for the Commission essentially synonymous with the NASA-coined term “astrobiology“. Since the latter term has been adopted by many scientific societies around the world with similar interests, under the new Division and Commission structure of the IAU the Commission has been again renamed and is now Commission F-3 “Astrobiology”.
Several tools have been developed for the analysis of the results of direct imaging exoplanet surveys, mostly using a combination of Monte-Carlo simulations or a Bayesian approach. Here we present a novel approach to the statistical analysis of Direct Imaging surveys, called Quick-MESS, which allows for a much faster and flexible analysis.
Recent direct imaging discoveries of exoplanets have raised new questions about the formation of very low-mass objects in very wide orbits. Several explanations have been proposed, but all of them run into some difficulties, trying to explain all the properties of these objects at once. Here we present the results of a deep adaptive optics imaging survey of 85 stars in the Upper Scorpius young association with Gemini, reaching contrasts of up to 10 magnitudes. In addition to identifying numerous stellar binaries and a few triples, we also found several interesting sub-stellar companions. We discuss the implications of these discoveries, including the possibility of a second pathway to giant planet formation.
It is now well established that young brown dwarfs harbor accretion disks –and thus undergo a T Tauri phase– similar to their low-mass stellar counterparts. The supporting evidence includes infrared and millimeter observations of the dust component as well as optical and infrared spectra with signatures of gas accretion and outflow. Recent findings suggest that disks are common even around young planetary mass objects. The ubiquity of circum-sub-stellar disks not only hints at a common formation scenario for PMOs, brown dwarfs and stars, but also offers a new regime for investigating processes such as episodic accretion, grain growth and disk clearing.
While numerous studies have been aimed at understanding the properties of young brown dwarfs relatively little exploration of their potential as drivers of outflows has occurred. Forbidden emission lines are important probes of outflows from young stellar objects, as they trace the shocks which form as an outflow interacts with the ambient medium of its driving source. While forbidden emission was identified in the spectra of young brown dwarfs, indicating the presence of outflows, these lines were weak and confined to the brown dwarf continuum position. Hence their origin in an outflow could not be confirmed. Our approach to this problem, is to analyse the forbidden line regions of brown dwarfs using spectro-astrometry. Spectro-astrometry is a novel technique which allows the user to recover spatial information from a spectrum beyond the limitations of the seeing of the observation. Using this technique we have found two brown dwarf outflows to date. In this chapter we outline this technique, describe our results for the brown dwarfs ρ-Oph 102 and 2MASS1207-3932 and discuss our future plans.
Using high-resolution optical spectra, we determine effective temperatures and gravities for a sample of very low-mass stellar and substellar PMS cluster objects. Masses and radii are then derived using known cluster distance and photometry; two of our targets seem to have planetary masses. Our results are independent of theoretical evolutionary tracks. While our results agree with the track predictions for hotter, higher mass objects, discrepancies appear for the coolest, lowest mass ones. This may be due to track uncertainties related to formation effects, and/or internal conditions, in these very young, ultra-low-mass objects.
It has been suggested that circumstellar disks evolve from dense, actively accreting structures to low-mass, replenished remnants. During this transition, grains may assemble into planetesimals, or the disk may be cleared by newborn planets. Recently identified nearby groups of young stars provide valuable laboratories for probing disk evolution. I discuss the properties of dust disks in the TW Hydrae Association and the MBM 12 cloud, and compare the results to other studies of disk evolution and planet formation timescales.
Brown dwarfs, which straddle the mass range between stars and planets, appear to be common both in the solar neighborhood and in star-forming regions. Their ubiquity makes the question of their origin an important one both for our understanding of brown dwarfs themselves as well as for theories on the formation of stars and planets. Studies of young sub-stellar objects could provide valuable insight into their formation and early evolution. Here I report on the latest results from our observational programs at Keck, VLT and Magellan on the disk and accretion properties of young brown dwarfs. We find compelling evidence that they undergo a T Tauri phase analogous to that of their stellar counterparts.
Studies of disks around young brown dwarfs are of paramount importance to our understanding of the origin, diversity and early evolution of sub-stellar objects. Here we present first results from a systematic search for disk emission in a spectroscopically confirmed sample of young objects near or below the sub-stellar boundary in a variety of star-forming regions. Our VLT and Keck L'-band observations of the σ Orionis and TW Hydrae associations suggest that if a majority of brown dwarfs are born with disks, at least the inner regions of those disks evolve rapidly, possibly clearing out within a few million years.
We present a comparison between the average radio pulse profiles of millisecond pulsars (MSPs) in the field and in globular clusters. Our sample consists of 20 field MSPs and 25 cluster MSPs for which observations exist at 400 - 600 MHz.
We find that 6 of the 20 field MSPs, or about 30%, have a comparable interpulse at a phase offset of 180 ±30 degrees. None of the cluster objects shows this feature. Here we define a ‘comparable interpulse’ as one whose intensity is at least 10% of the primary pulse. This lower limit is well above the noise level of all the profiles in our sample. While the cluster MSPs have much more poorly resolved profiles at present than field MSPs, it is unlikely that a strong interpulse near 180 degrees could be ‘hidden’ within the primary peak.
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