High-contrast imaging of faint substellar companions and debris disks
Abstract: Star formation results in the accumulation of circumstellar material orbiting around their host stars, such as debris disks and planetary-mass objects. A relatively modern technique that has shown to be very valu- able for studying these faint companions is high-contrast imaging, which allows to distinguish the light emitted or scattered off these objects, otherwise hidden behind the brighter stellar halo. In this Licentiate thesis we review the high-contrast imaging technique and its capabilities, giving examples of the latest achievements reached by this method. The star and planet formation scenario within young and gas-rich protoplanetary disks is also briefly discussed. We show that direct imaging observations constrain the protoplanetary disk evolution and the different planet formation processes. We also discuss the debris disk formation scenario and how direct imaging observations can help to understand their morphology and composition. The presence of planetary-mass companions within the disk can be revealed directly via high-contrast imaging or otherwise inferred from their interactions with the debris disk. Finally, we present a recent result on the polarimetry and the flux distribution in the debris disk around the HD 32297 star, which appears to be dominated by micron-sized dust particles and might have indications of a double ring structure (Paper I).
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