Evolution of protoplanetary disks from their taxonomy in scattered light: spirals, rings, cavities, and shadows
The variety of observed protoplanetary disks in polarimetric light motivates a taxonomical study to constrain their evolution and establish the current framework of this type of observations. We classified 58 disks with available polarimetric observations into six major categories (Ring, Spiral, Giant, Rim, Faint, and Small disks) based on their appearance in scattered light. We re-calculated the stellar and disk properties from the newly available GAIA DR2 and related these properties with the disk categories. More than a half of our sample shows disk sub-structures. For the remaining sources, the absence of detected features is due to their faintness, to their small size, or to the disk geometry. Faint disks are typically found around young stars and typically host no cavity. There is a possible dichotomy in the near-IR excess of sources with spiral-disks (high) and ring-disks (low). Like spirals, shadows are associated with a high near-IR excess. If we account for the pre-main sequence evolutionary timescale of stars with different mass, spiral arms are likely associated to old disks. We also found a loose, shallow declining trend for the disk dust mass with time. Protoplanetary disks may form sub-structures like rings very early in their evolution but their detectability in scattered light is limited to relatively old sources (more than 5 Myr) where the recurrently detected disk cavities allow to illuminate the outer disk. The shallow decrease of disk mass with time might be due to a selection effect, where disks observed thus far in scattered light are typically massive, bright transition disks with longer lifetime than most disks. Our study points toward spirals and shadows being generated by planets of fraction-to-few Jupiter masses that leave their (observed) imprint on both the inner disk near the star and the outer disk cavity.
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