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Early (and Late) Circumstellar Beginnings

August 27th, 2010

Images of recent circumstellar disk research from Gemini data by John Tobin, et al. (left), and Laura Churcher, et al. (right).

Two recent papers based on Gemini data look at very early and very late stages of circumstellar disk evolution – shedding light on the birth of possible planetary systems as two young stars mature onto the main sequence.

The Class 0 protostar L1527 is the subject of research led by John Tobin of the University of Michigan and soon to be published in The Astrophysical Journal. Using the Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) at Gemini North Tobin et al. studied the morphology of what was, in Spitzer data, only an unresolved stellar core. The team’s model accurately portrays the structure shown in the Gemini data and hint that the ingredients for planet formation are already in place very early in a star’s protostellar evolution. Details on this work can be found in the Gemini WebFeature: “A Very Young Circumstellar Disk in Scattered Light.”

Later in the process of stellar formation is HD191089. This star is the subject of work to be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by a team led by Laura Chrucher at the University of Cambridge UK. Using T-ReCS at Gemini South, Churcher et al. imaged this ~12 million year old star which is one (from a fraction (~15%) of stars) that maintains a debris disks beyond an age of about 10 million years. Irregularities in the disk seen in the Gemini data may indicate planet formation at distances comparable to those of our solar system. Details on this work can be found in the Gemini WebFeature: “Young Star Reveals “Mature” Debris Disk.”

Gemini Observatory Participants