This Is What Sun-Like Stars Making Planets L…

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.

What’s the cause of this, and how does it fit in with what we know of planet formation? Find out on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!