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Creators/Authors contains: "Epstein-Martin, Marguerite"

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  1. Abstract

    Recent advances in submillimeter observations of young circumstellar nebulae have opened an unprecedented window into the structure of protoplanetary disks that has revealed the surprising ubiquity of broken and misaligned disks. In this work, we demonstrate that such disks are capable of torquing the spin axis of their host star, representing a hitherto unexplored pathway by which stellar obliquities may be generated. The basis of this mechanism is a crossing of the stellar spin precession and inner disk regression frequencies, resulting in adiabatic excitation of the stellar obliquity. We derive analytical expressions for the characteristic frequencies of the inner disk and star as a function of the disk gap boundaries and place an approximate limit on the disk architectures for which frequency crossing and the resulting obliquity excitation are expected, thereby illustrating the efficacy of this model. Cumulatively, our results support the emerging consensus that significant spin–orbit misalignments are an expected outcome of planet formation.