Finding Substructures in Protostellar Disks in Ophiuchus

Arnaud Michel, Sarah I. Sadavoy, Patrick D. Sheehan, Leslie W. Looney, Erin G. Cox, John J. Tobin, Nienke van der Marel, Dominique M. Segura-Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High-resolution, millimeter observations of disks at the protoplanetary stage reveal substructures such as gaps, rings, arcs, spirals, and cavities. While many protoplanetary disks host such substructures, only a few at the younger protostellar stage have shown similar features. We present a detailed search for early disk substructures in Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array 1.3 and 0.87 mm observations of ten protostellar disks in the Ophiuchus star-forming region. Of this sample, four disks have identified substructure, two appear to be smooth disks, and four are considered ambiguous. The structured disks have wide Gaussian-like rings (σ R /R disk ∼ 0.26) with low contrasts (C < 0.2) above a smooth disk profile, in comparison to protoplanetary disks where rings tend to be narrow and have a wide variety of contrasts (σ R /R disk ∼ 0.08 and C ranges from 0 to 1). The four protostellar disks with the identified substructures are among the brightest sources in the Ophiuchus sample, in agreement with trends observed for protoplanetary disks. These observations indicate that substructures in protostellar disks may be common in brighter disks. The presence of substructures at the earliest stages suggests an early start for dust grain growth and, subsequently, planet formation. The evolution of these protostellar substructures is hypothesized in two potential pathways: (1) the rings are the sites of early planet formation, and the later observed protoplanetary disk ring-gap pairs are secondary features, or (2) the rings evolve over the disk lifetime to become those observed at the protoplanetary disk stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number184
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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