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A Deformed Protoplanetary Disk in a Triple Star System

4 Sep 2020, 17:37 UTC
A Deformed Protoplanetary Disk in a Triple Star System
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This morning we have two interesting and complementary studies of GW Orionis to look at, both analyzing what is apparently a planet-forming disk with multiple, misaligned rings around this triple star system some 1300 light years from the Sun. In the more recent of the two, Stefan Kraus (University of Exeter) and colleagues used data from both the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the European Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in detecting warm gas at the inner edge of the misaligned ring, which has broken away from the larger disc, and scattered light from the warped disk surface.
So what could be going on at GW Orionis? What the images reveal is an evolving young system much different from our own. Consider: The inner stars GW Ori A and GW Ori B orbit each other at a separation of a scant 1 AU, while the third star, GW Ori C, orbits the inner stars at a distance of roughly 8 AU, the latter in an orbit that is not aligned with the plane of the inner duo. In our Solar System, we’re used to planets that move in roughly the same plane around the Sun. Here we see ...

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