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Observational signatures of grain growth

With over 1,000 extrasolar planets discovered in the past fifteen years, it is becoming increasingly important to study the planet formation process. We have been conducting millimetre and centimetre wavelength observations of southern star forming regions with the Australia Telescope Compact Array to probe the cool, outer regions of protoplanetary disks and determine signatures of grain growth within these disks. These observations are complimented by sub-mm and IR studies.

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T Tauri star WW Cha
T Tauri star WW Cha. Contours show the emission at 3 mm (left) and 1.6 cm (right) overplotted on Spitzer IRAC observations at 3.6 microns. The disk of WW Cha contains "pebbles" at least a centimetre in size.
Credit: (c) Bourke, Maddison, Lommen, Wright