Hiding in the Shadows: Searching for Planets in Pre-Transitional and Transitional Disks
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Transitional and pre-transitional disks can be explained by a number of mechanisms. This work aims to find a single observationally detectable marker that would imply a planetary origin for the gap and, therefore, indirectly indicate the presence of a young planet. N-body simulations were conducted to investigate the effect of an embedded planet of one Jupiter mass on the production of instantaneous collisional dust derived from a background planetesimal disk. Our new model allows us to predict the dust distribution and resulting observable markers with greater accuracy than previous works. Dynamical influences from a planet on a circular orbit are shown to enhance dust production in the disk interior and exterior to the planet orbit, while removing planetesimals from the orbit itself, creating a clearly defined gap. In the case of an eccentric planet, the gap opened by the planet is not as clear as the circular case, but there is a detectable asymmetry in the dust disk.