Academia Sinica scientists find 'fluffy disk' around fledgling star
CNATAIPEI--A team of scientists from Taiwan's Academia Sinica has discovered for the first time a near-transparent layer of dust in the near infrared in a possible planet-forming disk around the young star RY Tauri, the country's top research institute said yesterday.
August 24, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The fluffy upper layer functions as a “special baby duvet” for forming planets and might be one of the key features for understanding how a variety of exoplanetary systems exist, it said.
The discovery was achieved during observation of the protoplanetary disk — a rotating circumstellar disk of dense gas surrounding a young newly formed star — around RY Tauri. Such disks are believed to be the sites where planets form.
Located about 460 light years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus, RY Tauri is around half a million years old, according to Academia Sinica.
The team, led by assistant research fellow Michihiro Takami from the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, suspects that the fluffy layer observed in the disk is a remnant of the dust that fell onto the star and the disk during earlier stages of formation.