Observations of the Earliest Stages of Protostellar Disks
Argelander-Institut fuer Astronomie, Bonn, Germany
One of the most important unanswered questions in our understanding of
low-mass star formation is how circumstellar disks form and evolve. Many
previous studies have focused on the properties of disks around revealed young
stellar objects, yet disks are likely formed in the deeply embedded stages of
low-mass protostars and their properties related to the physical and chemical
structure of the innermost regions of the centrally condensed envelopes
surrounding such young stars. With high angular resolution observations from
present-day (sub)millimeter interferometers and high sensitivity mid-infrared
observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope we can now characterize the
inner envelopes and disks in their earliest evolutionary stages.
In this talk I will present an overview of observations of the structure and evolution of disks during the deeply embedded stages of low-mass protostars, focusing in particular on results from the Protostellar Submillimeter Array Campaign and Spitzer/Cores to Disks Legacy surveys. These observations give a first taste of the exciting future offered, e.g., by ALMA. In this talk I will discuss these prospects, as well as the issues that need to be addressed before we can take full advantage of the future possibilities.