A laboratory approach to drag-induced fluid instabilities in dusty protoplanetary disks
It remains to be explained how kilometer-sized planetary embryos form from millimeter-sized particles in the dust-laden gas that surrounds young stars. In particular, limited dust-coagulation efficiency and the drift of solids into the central star pose severe barriers to particle growth past meter-size scales and seriously challenge any gradual growth mechanism. Flow instabilities and turbulence, however, may enhance local dust concentration and lead to gravitational collapse, thus providing an alternative way to form the initial building blocks in the planet-forming process. I will introduce a recently developed experimental facility and explain why it is uniquely suited to further our fundamental understanding of heavily mass-loaded two-phase flows under conditions that mimic those of protoplanetary discs.