Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems: Placing Our Habitable Solar System in Context
When: September 26, 2005 11AM PDT
Over the past 10 years abundant evidence has emerged that many (if not
all) stars are born with circumstellar disks. Understanding the
evolution of disks can provide strong constraints on theories of
planet formation. While concensus is emerging concerning the
early evolution of accretion disks (tau < 10 Myr) and the
characterization of older debris disks (tau > 1 Gyr) continues at a
rapid pace, little is known about the transition between these two
extremes thought to occur during the epoch of planet formation.
Recent studies undertaken with ground and space-based observatories
are helping to address questions concerning the evolution of disks
around sun-like stars. We will review recent results from these programs,
and compare them to models for the evolution of our own solar system.
This comparison sheds light on whether solar systems like our own
(and the potential for life that such systems represent) are common or
rare among the ensemble of sun-like stars in the disk of the Milky Way.
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