Three papers present studies of thermal balances, dynamics, and electromagnetic spectra of protoplanetary disks, which comprise gas and dust orbiting young stars. One paper addresses the reprocessing, in a disk, of photons that originate in the disk itself in addition to photons that originate in the stellar object at the center. The shape of the disk is found to strongly affect the redistribution of energy. Another of the three papers reviews an increase in the optical luminosity of the young star FU Orionis. The increase began in the year 1936 and similar increases have since been observed in other stars. The paper summarizes astronomical, meteoric, and theoretical evidence that these increases are caused by increases in mass fluxes through the inner portions of the protoplanetary disks of these stars. The remaining paper presents a mathematical-modeling study of the structures of protostellar accretion disks, with emphasis on limits on disk flaring. Among the conclusions reached in the study are that (1) the radius at which a disk becomes shadowed from its central stellar object depends on radial mass flow and (2) most planet formation has occurred in environments unheated by stellar radiation.

This work was done by K. R. Bell and P. M. Cassen of Ames Research Center, J. T. Wasson and D. S. Woolum of the University of California, and H. H. Klahr and Th. Henning of the Max Planck Society (Jena, Germany). For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at under the Physical Sciences category. ARC-14986