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Spiral Arms Point to Possible Planets in a Star's Dusty Disk

A new image of the disk of gas and dust around a sun-like star is the first to show spiral-arm-like structures. These features may provide clues to the presence of embedded but as-yet-unseen planets.

The newly imaged disk surrounds SAO 206462, an 8.7-magnitude star located about 456 light-years away in the constellation Lupus. Astronomers estimate that the system is only about 9 million years old. The gas-rich disk spans some 14 billion miles, which is more than twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system.

The Subaru near-infrared image reveals a pair of spiral features arcing along the outer disk. Theoretical models show that a single embedded planet may produce a spiral arm on each side of a disk. The structures around SAO 206462 do not form a matched pair, suggesting the presence of two unseen worlds, one for each arm.

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Another multimedia item related to this story:
     Webb Science Simulations: Planetary Systems and Origins of Life (id 10662)
More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/possible-planets.html

Simulations of young stellar systems suggest that planets embedded in a circumstellar disk can produce many distinctive structures, including rings, gaps and spiral arms. This video compares computer simulations of hypothetical systems to the Subaru image of SAO 206462. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/NCSA    Simulations of young stellar systems suggest that planets embedded in a circumstellar disk can produce many distinctive structures, including rings, gaps and spiral arms. This video compares computer simulations of hypothetical systems to the Subaru image of SAO 206462.

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/NCSA
Duration: 1.5 minutes
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Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system. Credit: NAOJ/Subaru    Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system.

Credit: NAOJ/Subaru

Available formats:
  3305 x 2562     JPEG       2 MB
  1500 x 1163     JPEG   473 KB


Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system. No Labels. Credit: NAOJ/Subaru    Two spiral arms emerge from the gas-rich disk around SAO 206462, a young star in the constellation Lupus. This image, acquired by the Subaru Telescope and its HiCIAO instrument, is the first to show spiral arms in a circumstellar disk. The disk itself is some 14 billion miles across, or about twice the size of Pluto's orbit in our own solar system. No Labels.

Credit: NAOJ/Subaru

Available formats:
  3305 x 2562     JPEG       2 MB
  1500 x 1163     JPEG   440 KB
  320 x 180         PNG       90 KB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?10847
Animation Number:10847
Completed:2011-10-14
Animators:Donna Cox (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois) (Lead)
 A. J. Christensen (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
 Matthew Hall (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
 Alex Betts (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
 Stuart Levy (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
 Robert Patterson (AVL NCSA/University of Illinois)
Video Editor:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Writer:Francis Reddy (SPSYS)
Goddard TV Tape:G2011-112 -- Spiral Arms Point to Possible Planets in a Star's Dusty Disk
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. However, individual elements should be credited as indicated.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Dust
SVS >> HDTV
SVS >> Music
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Planets
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Exo-planet
SVS >> Star
SVS >> Space Science
NASA Science >> Universe
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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