HD100546 and Circumstellar Disk with Extrasolar Planet
Image Credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF
In a recently published paper, NOAO astronomer Joan Najita was part of a team that has shown evidence for a planet forming in the disk around a young star. The results provide perhaps the first evidence that planets are surrounded by a circumplanetary disk at birth. This figure is an artist’s conception of the young massive star HD100546 and its surrounding disk. A planet forming in the disk has cleared the disk within 13AU of the star, a distance comparable to that of Saturn from the sun. As gas and dust flows from the circumstellar disk to the planet, this material surrounds the planet as a circumplanetary disk (inset). These rotating disks are believed to be the birthplaces of planetary moons, such as the Galilean moons that orbit Jupiter. While they are theoretically predicted to surround giant planets at birth, there has been little observational evidence to date for circumplanetary disks outside the solar system. Brittain et al. (2014) report evidence for an orbiting source of carbon monoxide emission whose size is consistent with theoretical predictions for a circumplanetary disk. Observations over 10 years trace the orbit of the forming planet from behind the near side of the circumstellar disk in 2003 to the far side of the disk in 2013. These observations provide a new way to study how planets form.
Read more in the Clemson Press Release.