Mass accretion onto low mass stars and the search for planets around young stars

Fernández, M. and Neuhäuser, R.
Science with the GTC (Eds. José Miguel Rodríguez Espinosa, Francisco Garzón López, and Verónica Melo Martín) Revista Mexicana de Astronomía y Astrofísica (Serie de Conferencias) Vol. 16, pp. 85-88 (2003)


Low mass, solar-type stars are still undergoing a strong mass accretion process by the time they can be studied at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. Although the magnetospheric accretion model can explain many of the observational results that concern these stars, there are still important unresolved questions. High resolution optical spectroscopy can provide us with quantitative information about the regions involved in the mass accretion process. Because of the low brightness of the stars, their late spectral types, the time scale of their variability, and the S/N and resolution required, the GTC is an optimum candidate for these kinds of projects.

By the time the inner parts of the accretion disk disappear, the last stage of the star-disk evolution begins, during which planet formation is supposed to take place. Because of the brightness ratio of the planet to the star, this stage of planet formation and contraction is the most suitable for detecting planets by direct imaging. In the near-infrared wavelength range, the detection of young Saturnlike planets should be possible with the GTC.