OCT 29, 2016 8:07 AM PDT

This Binary Star System Has 3 Misaligned Planet-Forming Disks

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

While observing a distant binary star system known as IRS 43 with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile, astronomers have determined something very odd that we’ve never seen before.
 

In this system, three accretion disks on different planes exist.

 Image Credit: Christian Brinch/NBI

Typically, when looking at a star system, or even a binary star system, there is a single accretion disk orbiting the star(s). The accretion disk is the range where planets may form from dust and debris clumping together. Even our own Solar System follows this model.
 
On the other hand, IRS 43 exhibits up to three separate accretion disks. Two of those orbit each of the stars in the binary system, and the last one is much larger and orbits the two stars simultaneously.
 
More strangely, all three of these accretion disks were formed on different planes from one another. No scientist seems to really understand why or how this may have occurred, but the findings appear in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
 
"The two newly formed stars are both the size of our sun and they each have a rotating disc of gas and dust similar to the size of our solar system. In addition, they have a shared disc that is much larger and crosses over the other two discs. All three discs are staggered and this breaks with everything we have seen so far," Christian Brinch, an assistant professor with the University of Copenhagen, said.
 

The red indicates gasses moving away from our planet, and the blue indicates gasses moving towards.

 Image Credit: Christian Brinch, NBI, KU

The stars are very young, at just about 100-200,000 years old and are about the same size as our Sun. Although this is a long period of time compared to a human’s life span, this is just the blink of an eye in universe time.
 
One of the theories set forth is how this may occur early on in the development of the binary star system, but later on corrects itself as things become less chaotic. Such a hypothesis might be a viable reason why most systems have accretion disks on the same plane.
 
The astronomers are hoping to answer some questions about how this could have happened with the help of computer models. The goal will be to try and reconstruct the circumstances where this kind of thing may have happened and then better understand why it’s not so common.
 
Source: Space.com

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
AUG 09, 2020
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
On August 7, A SpaceX recovery vessel called GO Navigator brought the Crew Dragon capsule back to its home port.
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
SEP 08, 2020
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
The Chinese government has announced the safe return of a reusable spacecraft, called Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi ...
SEP 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What the Sun's New Weather Cycle Means for Earth
SEP 17, 2020
What the Sun's New Weather Cycle Means for Earth
Scientists have confirmed that the sun is nine months into a new solar cycle, and that this 11-year cycle will resemble ...
OCT 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Observe a Supermassive Black Hole Surrounded by Galaxies
OCT 08, 2020
Astronomers Observe a Supermassive Black Hole Surrounded by Galaxies
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an array of four individual telescopes in the ...
OCT 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Ultra-hot Exoplanet Vaporizes Iron in its Atmosphere
OCT 09, 2020
Ultra-hot Exoplanet Vaporizes Iron in its Atmosphere
Researchers from the University of Bern in Germany have found that an exoplanet, known as WASP-121b, is so hot that it c ...
NOV 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
NOV 22, 2020
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
W/hile renewable energy technologies have developed exponentially in recent years, a major barrier towards their adoptio ...
Loading Comments...