Washington, June 11 (ANI): Scientists have observed, for the first time ever, the processes that give rise to stars and planets in nascent solar systems.
The discoveries, appearing in the Astrophysical Journal, provide a better understanding of the way hydrogen gas from the protoplanetary disk is incorporated into the star.
By coupling both Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea in Hawaii with a specifically engineered instrument named ASTRA (ASTrometric and phase-Referenced Astronomy), University of Arizona astronomer Joshua Eisner and his colleagues were able to peer deeply into protoplanetary disks -swirling clouds of gas and dust that feed the growing star in its centre and eventually coalesce into planets and asteroids to form a solar system.
Combining the Keck interferometer with the spectro-astrometry technique, Eisner and his collaborators were able to distinguish between the distributions of gas, mostly made up of hydrogen, and dust, thereby resolving the disk's features.
"We were able to get really, really close to the star and look right at the interface between the gas-rich protoplanetary disk and the star," said Eisner, who serves as project scientist on the ASTRA team.
He added: "We want to understand how material accretes onto the star.
"This process has never been measured directly." (ANI)