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Resolved spectroscopy of debris disks with SPHERE/VLT

Abstract : Debris disks are found around many young main-sequence stars. They are characterized by the dusty, gas-depleted environment as opposed to gas-rich protoplanetary disks. Debris disks are also considered as `secondary disks' because they bear non-primordial dust grains which are constantly generated by continuous collisions of planetesimals. Recent observations in the sub-millimeter have shown compelling evidence that a significant amount of gas can be present in some of these disks.High-contrast and high-resolution imaging have proven to be very effective to observe debris disks and to resolve their morphological structures, tracing the distribution of the small dust grains. Scattered light imaging in the near-infrared can measure the intensity distribution of the disk, which is related to the grain properties. The disk intensity varies differently in total intensity imaging and polarimetric imaging so it is necessary to use both to better constrain dust characteristics.Considering the advantages of high-contrast imaging, I aimed to study the scattered light images of debris disks obtained by one such instrument, the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research (SPHERE) which is installed at the VLT in Chile. To obtain a post-processed intensity image with reduced stellar residuals in a post-adaptive optics coronographic observation, the angular differential imaging (ADI) and polarimetric differential imaging (PDI) techniques are usually performed but imply self-subtraction which must be corrected for to recover true photometry. In order to model debris disks, I used a radiative transfer module, GRaTer and processed disk synthetic images through equivalent post-processing technique as the data, from which the morphology of the disk and its grain-size distribution is constrained.The goal of my thesis is to interpret spectral and temporal variations of debris disks, both in terms of their morphology and grain-size distribution to finally understand planet formation. To achieve this I studied the morphology of the debris disk HD32297 and developed a model mimicking the density and intensity distribution of the disk. This model then was used to retrieve the surface brightness and average reflectance of the disk. The average reflectance was then compared to a spectrum obtained from analyzing the particle size distribution within the disk for different grain compositions. Fitting the spectra to the average reflectance provided an important result, which indicated that the minimum grain size is well below blow-out size independent of the grain composition. The possible explanations which were looked into for the presence of sub-micron grains are a combination of a steady-state collisional cascade, collisional avalanche mechanism and gas drag due to the presence of a large quantity of gas in this debris disk. In second part of the thesis I applied similar work to debris disk HD106906 and HD141569 in total intensity. For HD106906 the visible flux asymmetry between the two sides of the disk was modeled and resolved and for HD141569 using aperture photometry a spectral analysis of the particular structure compared to the full southern part of the inner disk was performed. In perspective, this work will open a more systematic analysis of the many multi-wavelength observations obtained with high-contrast imaging of debris disks in order to understand the evolution of grains to planets.
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Trisha Bhowmik. Resolved spectroscopy of debris disks with SPHERE/VLT. Astrophysics [astro-ph]. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019PSLEO019⟩. ⟨tel-02966928⟩

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