Date of Award

5-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Physics

Committee Member

Dr. Sean Brittain, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Brad Meyer

Committee Member

Dr. Jens Oberheide

Abstract

The study of planets has fascinated observers for millennia, from careful observers plotting the motions of the 'wandering stars' to modern astronomers utilizing equipment to study planets within and beyond our Solar System. We have discovered, in recent decades, that planetary systems are found around a large fraction of stars of varying types. The study of the structure of these systems provides a way to study the initial conditions of planet formation and place constraints on models of planet formation and disk-planet interactions. To determine these constraints and identify indirect probes of ongoing planet formation, astronomers have turned to young stellar objects, such as Herbig Ae/Be stars or T Tauri stars, which are surrounded by a disks of gas and dust. By studying these disks, where planet formation takes its first steps, we can determine the signposts of planet formation in disks and complete the planet formation models. This paper investigates one such disk around Herbig star HD 100546. Previous observations of the disk by Liskowsky et al. (2012) and Fedele et al. (2015) have found contradicting OH line profiles. These molecular lines are used to probe the dynamic structure of the inner rim of the outer disk. Liskowsky et al. (2012) present evidence that the asymmetry in the OH line is caused by disk interactions with a massive planetary companion. However, Fedele et. al (2015) show that a similar asymmetric effect can be caused by subsampling of the disk with a narrow slit. In this thesis, the likelihood that a circular disk appears asymmetric is weighed against the likelihood that an asymmetric disk appears symmetric by modeling synthetic observations of both situations. Best practices for future observations of HD 100546 and other circumstellar disks are discussed.

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