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Physical Processes in Circumstellar Disks around Young Stars

Circumstellar disks are vast expanses of dust that form around new stars in the earliest stages of their birth. Predicted by astronomers as early as the eighteenth century, they weren’t observed until the late twentieth century, when interstellar imaging technology enabled us to see nascent stars hundreds of light years away. Since then, circumstellar disks have become an area of intense study among astrophysicists, largely because they are thought to be the forerunners of planetary systems like our own—the possible birthplaces of planets.

This volume brings together a team of leading experts to distill the most up-to-date knowledge of circumstellar disks into a clear introductory volume. Understanding circumstellar disks requires a broad range of scientific knowledge, including chemical processes, the properties of dust and gases, hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics, radiation transfer, and stellar evolution—all of which are covered in this comprehensive work, which will be indispensable for graduate students, seasoned researchers, or even advanced undergrads setting out on the study of planetary evolution.

440 pages | 12 color plates, 15 halftones, 78 line drawings, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2011

Physical Sciences: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics and Astronomy, Theoretical Physics


“Written by some of the leading experts in the field, Physical Processes in Circumstellar Disks around Young Stars provides a comprehensive explanation of the basic physics of planet-forming disks. It serves both as a valuable introduction and as a thoroughly researched sourcebook for all those in the field.”

James E. Pringle, University of Cambridge

“The authors have provided a rigorous presentation of many aspects of a topic that is certain to become of increasing interest to astronomers as our inventory of extra-solar-system planets and types of planets continues to grow. The stimulating last chapter, by Cathie Clarke, leaves the reader with a number of questions to work on in the future, the most notable and surprising of which is, How do stars get rid of their disks as fast as observations say they must, and still have time to form planets?!”

Virginia Trimble, University of California, Irvine

“These essays provide a deep, insightful presentation of the key theoretical issues relevant to understanding the protoplanetary disks that are likely sites for future planet formation. Physical Processes in Circumstellar Disks around Young Stars will certainly be a fundamental contribution to astrophysical literature.”

Suzan Edwards, Smith College

Table of Contents

1 Circumstellar Disks around Young Stars
Paulo J. V. Garcia, Antonella Natta, and Malcolm Walmsley

2 Protoplanetary Disk Structure and Evolution
Nuria Calvet and Paola D’Alessio

3 The Chemical Evolution of Protoplanetary Disks
Edwin A. Bergin

4 Dust Processing and Mineralogy in Protoplanetary Accretion Disks
Thomas Henning and Gwendolyn Meeus

5 Disk Hydrodynamics
Richard H. Durisen

6 Magnetohydrodynamics of Protostellar Disks
Steven A. Balbus

7 The Effects of Large-Scale Magnetic Fields on Disk Formation and Evolution
Arieh Königl and Raquel Salmeron

8 The Dispersal of Disks around Young Stars
Cathie Clarke

List of Contributors

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