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Sci Adv. 2016 Feb 5;2(2):e1500875. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500875. eCollection 2016 Feb.

Circumstellar disks of the most vigorously accreting young stars.

Author information

1
Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taipei 10617, Taiwan.
2
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan.
3
Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Taipei 10617, Taiwan.; Astronomy Department, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
4
Department of Astrophysics, University of Vienna, Vienna 1010, Austria.; Research Institute of Physics, Southern Federal University, Rostov-on-Don 344006, Russia.
5
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan.; University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8654, Japan.
6
Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg 69117, Germany.
7
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
8
College of Science, Ibaraki University, Mito 310-0056, Japan.

Abstract

Stars may not accumulate their mass steadily, as was previously thought, but in a series of violent events manifesting themselves as sharp stellar brightening. These events can be caused by fragmentation due to gravitational instabilities in massive gaseous disks surrounding young stars, followed by migration of dense gaseous clumps onto the star. Our high-resolution near-infrared imaging has verified the presence of the key associated features, large-scale arms and arcs surrounding four young stellar objects undergoing luminous outbursts. Our hydrodynamics simulations and radiative transfer models show that these observed structures can indeed be explained by strong gravitational instabilities occurring at the beginning of the disk formation phase. The effect of those tempestuous episodes of disk evolution on star and planet formation remains to be understood.

KEYWORDS:

Astronomy; circumstellar arms and arcs; disk formation phase; stars; young stars

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