Using ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer, astronomers have probed the inner parts of the disc of material surrounding a young stellar object, witnessing how it gains its mass before becoming an adult.
The astronomers had a close look at the object known as MWC 147, lying about 2,600 light years away towards the constellation of Monoceros ('the Unicorn'). MWC 147 belongs to the family of Herbig Ae/Be objects. These have a few times the mass of our Sun and are still forming, increasing in mass by swallowing material present in a surrounding disc.
MWC 147 is less than half a million years old. If one associated the middle-aged, 4.6 billion year old Sun with a person in his early forties, MWC 147 would be a 1-day-old baby .
The morphology of the inner environment of these young stars is however a matter of debate and knowledge of it is important to better understand how stars and their cortège of planets form.
The astronomers Stefan Kraus, Thomas Preibisch, and Keiichi Ohnaka have used the four 8.2-m Unit Telescopes of ESO's Very Large Telescope to this purpose, combining the light from two or three telescopes with the MIDI and AMBER instruments.
"With our VLTI/MIDI and VLTI/AMBER observations of MWC147, we combine, for the first time, near- and mid-infrared interferometric observations of a Herbig Ae/Be star, providing a measurement of the disc size over a wide wavelength range ," said Stefan Kraus, lead-author of the paper reporting the results. "Different wavelength regimes trace different temperatures, allowing us to probe the disc's geometry on the smaller scale, but also to constrain how the temperature changes with the distance from the star."
The near-infrared observations probe hot material with temperatures of up to a few thousand degrees in the innermost disc regions, while the mid-infrared observations trace cooler dust further out in the disc.
The observations show that the temperature changes with radius are much steeper than predicted by the currently favoured models, indicating that most of the near-infrared emission emerges from hot material located very close to the star, that is, within one or two times the Earth-Sun distance (1-2 AU). This also implies that dust cannot exist so close to the star, since the strong energy radiated by the star heats and ultimately destroys the dust grains.
"We have performed detailed numerical simulations to understand these observations and reached the conclusion that we observe not only the outer dust disc, but also measure strong emission from a hot inner gaseous disc. This suggests that the disc is not a passive one, simply reprocessing the light from the star," explained Kraus. "Instead, the disc is active, and we see the material, which is just transported from the outer disc parts towards the forming star."
The best-fit model is that of a disc extending out to 100 AU, with the star increasing in mass at a rate of seven millionths of a solar mass per year.
"Our study demonstrates the power of ESO's VLTI to probe the inner structure of discs around young stars and to reveal how stars reach their final mass," said Stefan Kraus.Notes
: MIDI is the mid-infrared instrument of the VLT interferometer. It operates between 8 and 13 microns. AMBER observes in the near-infrared, from 1 to 2.4 microns.
Henri Boffin | alfa
What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
18.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin
Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.
Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.07.2018 | Life Sciences
18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine