Using Protoplanetary Disks to Weigh the Youngest Stars and Constrain The Earliest Stages of Stellar Evolution
Wed, November 04, 2015
Mass is the fundamental property that determines the evolutionary path of a star. In particular, the masses of young stars are of great relevance to many astrophysical problems, including star and planet formation. We have developed a novel approach that combines spatially resolved sub-millimeter spectral line imaging and optical/near-infrared high resolution spectroscopy to derive the fundamental properties of a young star: mass, temperature, and radius. By applying our technique to a sample of pre-main sequence stars, we are mapping out a dynamically-calibrated Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for the express purpose of evaluating pre-main sequence evolutionary models. Looking forward, ALMA is poised to deliver precise stellar masses in statistically large quantities, enabling a meaningful survey of the fundamental properties of young stars.