Tuesday, May 8, 2012

14-billion-mile-wide disc shows young star 'pulling' planets into place around itself

A 14-billion-mile-wide gas cloud is offering an incredible vision of the early years of a young solar system.

The star is 400 light years away from Earth, in the constellation Lupus, the wolf.

The young star, known as SAO 206462, is surrounded by a disc of gas 14billion miles across - and its gravitational pull has arranged the disc into two spiral arms.

The spiral arms forming has led astronomers to investigate whether young planets might be 'shaping' the disc of gas around the star.

‘Detailed computer simulations have shown us that the gravitational pull of a planet inside a circumstellar disk can perturb gas and dust, creating spiral arms,’ said Carol Grady, an astronomer with Eureka Scientific, Inc., who is based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

‘Now, for the first time, we're seeing these dynamical features.’ Read More