Astronomers have been puzzled for decades as to how the rings of hot gas surrounding certain types of star are formed. Now a team of scientists from the Universities of Glasgow and Wisconsin believe they have found the answer. The team studied a type of young, hot star, known as a "Be star", that has a disk of glowing gas around it, similar to the rings surrounding Saturn. Until now, no one has been able to account for how these rings form but in a paper published this month*, the team suggest an answer.
Artists impression of a Be Star
The gas ring surrounding a Be Star may appear and then disappear, possibly reforming at a later time. Material in the disk is attracted back towards the star by the pull of gravity, but if it has enough energy it can escape into space, contributing to the stellar wind.
The new theory reveals why this material is held in a disk at some distance from the star instead of either being pulled closer or flying away into space.
Julia Maddock | alfa
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