This Is What Sun-Like Stars Making Planets Look Like
“Owing to a new instrument on a remarkable telescope, the ESO’s Very Large Telescope, we can now image protoplanetary disks directly. The SPHERE instrument, optimized for infrared exoplanet research, includes the IRDIS imager, designed for high-resolution viewing. When it looked at T Tauri stars, very young stars of 2 solar masses or less, here’s what it saw. Regardless of age or mass, symmetric and well-defined rings, disks, and gaps exist around every one.”
What did our Solar System look like when it was just forming? How did we go from a single, central mass with a disk around it to a full-fledged planetary system with well-defined bodies and boundaries? Since the turn of the century, we’ve managed to image protoplanetary disks to unprecedented resolution, finding some with symmetric, ring-like features in them, and others with large, sweeping spiral shapes. Both classes should have planets, but which one was our Sun? In a new study that focused on low-mass protostellar systems, eight T Tauri stars, of two solar masses or less, were studied. Between the ages of 1 and 15 million years, they all exhibited the symmetric structures we saw hints of earlier, without any spiral perturbations at all.