The Dispersal of Protoplanetary Disks

Protoplanetary disks are the sites of planet formation, and the evolution and eventual dispersal of these disks strongly influences the formation of planetary systems. Disk evolution during the planet-forming epoch is driven by accretion and mass loss due to winds, and in typical environments photoevaporation by high-energy radiation from the central star is likely to dominate final gas disk dispersal. We present a critical review of current theoretical models, and discuss the observations that are used to test these models and inform our understanding of the underlying physics. We also discuss the role disk dispersal plays in shaping planetary systems, considering its influence on both the process(es) of planet formation and the architectures of planetary systems. We conclude by presenting a schematic picture of protoplanetary disk evolution and dispersal, and discussing prospects for future work.

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