Imaging Protoplanets with Adaptive Optics and Interferometry
Stephanie Sallum
University of California, Santa Cruz



Understanding the details of planet formation requires direct observations of protoplanets themselves. Transition disks, protoplanetary disks with inner clearings in dust, are the most promising targets for these studies. Their clearings and relatively low stellar accretion rates may be caused by forming planets sweeping up material that would have otherwise fallen onto the star. While protoplanets are expected to have low infrared contrasts compared to mature exoplanets, the large distances to transition disks necessitate novel imaging techniques beyond adaptive optics and coronagraphy to make these detections. Non-redundant masking (NRM), which transforms a conventional telescope into an interferometric array, is well suited for imaging protoplanets directly. I will present the results of NRM observations of transition disks, as well as strategies for disentangling accretion signals from light scattered by disk material. I will also discuss the potential for protoplanet characterization using interferometric techniques, and applications of these techniques on next generation facilities such as the Thirty Meter Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope.