Dusty disks around Sun-like stars

Dusty disks around Sun-like stars

Fig. 16.3a . Instruments aboard the Hubble Space Telescope have obtained these images of the visible starlight reflected from thick disks of dust around two young stars that might still be in the process of forming planets. Viewed nearly face on, the debris disk surrounding the Sun-like star known as HD 107146 (Figure 16.3b) has an empty center large enough to contain the orbits of the planets in our solar system. Seen edge-on, the dust disk around the reddish dwarf star known as AU Microscopii (Figure 16.3a) has a similar cleared-out space in the middle. HD 107146 is 88 light-years away, and is thought to be between 50 million and 250 million years old, while AU Microscopii is located 32 light-years away and is estimated to be just 12 million years old. (Courtesy of NASA, ESA, STScI, JPL, David Ardila JHU (Figure 16.3b), and John Krist STScI/JPL (Figure 16.3a).)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University