Research Highlights

My research focuses on the distribution and physical conditions of molecules in protoplanetary disks. By using high sensitivity and resolution ALMA observations and state-of-the art techniques I am able to characterise molecular emission in 3D, tracing the radial, azimuthal and vertical structures. A full compilation of my publications can be found here. Selected highlights are indicated below.

Vertical emmiting layers

The gaseous reservoir of molecules in protoplanetary disks can extend several tens of au above the planet-forming midplane. By tracing the vertical location where molecules reside we can directly probe the thermal and density variations as a function of radius and height. My focus is tracing the vertical molecular profiles in mid-inclination disks, where there is additional information on radial and azimuthal structures, allowing us to study in three dimensions the system’s ongoing processes. 

Turbulence in disks

Turbulence is proposed to be a key driver of protoplanetary disk evolution. Direct measurements of turbulence have remained elusive and in most cases rely on complex radiative transfer models fit to the data. By exploiting our knowledge on the vertical and radial location of an optically thin tracer with the temperature structure derived from optically thick CO lines, we propose a direct method to observationally determine turbulence. Our results yield high turbulence that we can constrain to the upper disk layers.

Paper available upon request.

Spiral structures – Gravitational Instabilities

Gravitational instabilities (GI) is the process through which in massive and cold protoplanetary disks giant planets may form through the fragmentation of material clumps. A key observational feature is spiral arms in the disk. My analysis on this topic focused on the young star Elias 2-27. Using multiwavelength ALMA continuum and CO isotopologue data we characterised in-depth the disk emission to confirm multiple theoretical predictions of GI and dynamically determine the disk mass.