Astronomers capture first direct image of a young binary star system

December 17th, 2009 - 5:02 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, December 17 (ANI): A team of astronomers has captured the first direct image of a young binary star system.

It was captured by astronomers from the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and other universities.

Using the Coronagraphic Imager with Adaptive Optics (CIAO) mounted on the Subaru Telescope, the team observed the young binary star SR24, which is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, 520 light-years away.

The data from the team’s observations provide the first solid basis for testing and refining theoretical models of star and planet formation in binary systems.

In a binary system, two stars orbit around a common center of mass.

The brighter or more massive star is referred to as the primary star and the fainter or less massive one is called the secondary star.

A disk of gas and dust surrounds the primary star (”circumprimary disk”); another disk encircles the secondary star (”circumsecondary disk”).

A third disk (”circumbinary disk”) may ring the primary and secondary stars and supply mass to the stars’ disks through a stream of gas.

Spiral arms of gas and dust may extend from the stars’ disks to feed them with material from the circumbinary disk, thus contributing to the development of their circumstellar disks.

However, such disks and spiral arms in binary or multiple systems have rarely been directly imaged or resolved - until now.

The July 2006 observations of the young binary star SR24 by astronomers Dr. Satoshi Mayama, Dr. Motohide Tamura, Dr. Masahiko Hayashi and colleagues have corrected this deficit and provided data that can be used to test theories about binary system formation.

The team captured a high-resolution, near-infrared image of the circumprimary and circumsecondary disks of SR24, the first such image of twin protoplanetary disks around a young stellar object.

They also discovered a long spiral arm extending out from the circumprimary disk, another first in observations of young stars.

The image shows a bridge of gas connecting the two disks.

The observations provide the first data that can be used to test theoretical models of mass accretion in binary systems. (ANI)

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