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The evolution of solar systems

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The recent detection of extra-solar planets and the increasing ability of modern instruments to image discs around young stars has brought a renewed interest in the formation of solar systems. In this article, I shall briefly review what we know about extra-solar planets and the physical structure of protostellar discs. One of the most powerful means of studying these disc systems is to observe the rotational line emission from molecules which can give information on physics and dynamics. At present, the observations are relatively crude but future instruments should be able to resolve molecular structures in the disc around nearby stars. As a prelude to these observations, I discuss some conceptually simple, although numerically challenging, models of the physical and chemical processes involved in determining the molecular distributions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-07-01

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