Image in the false colors of the submillimeter wavelength of the IRAS 15398-3359 system, 47 light years away from the Earth
Astronomers from the Faculty of Physics at Tokyo University have discovered a dense disk of material around a young star. It is believed that the disk is able to precede the appearance of the planetary system. New research can significantly improve models of how solar systems are formed.
The star IRAS 15398-3359 is a small, youthful and relatively cool object. Its small size speaks of a weak light, which does not even manage to break through to us through a dust and gas cloud. But this does not stop the curious scientists from research. In 2013, they used a large array of ALMA (Chile) to observe a star in submillimeter waves, since this type of light is able to break through the dust cloud (red light - 700 nanometers). Careful analysis revealed some interesting nebulous structures.
But the images are fuzzy, so it is difficult to understand what exactly we are looking at. The new model was a complete surprise, because the pictures showed a dense disk of material, represented by gas and dust around the star. Previously, nothing like this was noticed around such young stars.
IRAS 15398-3359 - 0-class protostar, invisible to human eyes and viewed only in longer waves
This disk plays the role of the predecessor of the protoplanetary disk, which is still much denser and as a result should become a planetary system. While it is impossible to predict when this will happen. The stellar wind is able to push the dust cloud or all the material will be in the star. The star reaches 0.7 solar mass, but can grow by 20% over several tens of thousands of years.
Scientists learn to make sense of abstract images from tools, like ALMA
Initially, the project of studying such images was used to teach a Japanese student (Yuki Okode), but now it has become a full-fledged study that allowed her to defend her Ph.D. Observations were made possible by advances in radio astronomy with observatories, like ALMA. The team was lucky that the plane is comparable to the solar system, as it allows the telescope to capture light through the aisles in dust and gas.