Gas Clumps in Binary Systems could be Seeds of Planet Formation

Gas Clumps in Binary Systems could be Seeds of Planet Formation

According to astronomers, gas clumps in a binary system are likely to play a significant role in planet formation. At least half the sun-like stars are believed to be produced in our galaxy by such binary systems.

An outer disk of gas is present in the binary system dubbed GG Tau-A. The disk encircles both the stars and an inner disk around its central star, like a wheel within a wheel.

What has baffled astronomers is the existence of the inner disk, because it is surrendering material to the central star system at a clip that should have seen it disappear long ago.

A clue to the mystery was provided by the discovery of clumps of gas in the region between the outer and inner disks. Now, it has been established that there is an ongoing process in which material is getting transferred from the outer disk to the inner one, a gaseous lifeline that is sustaining the inner ring.

"Material flowing through the cavity was predicted by computer simulations but never imaged before. Detecting these clumps indicates that material is moving between the disks, allowing one to feed off the other", said study leader Ann Dutrey of the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France.

It was made crystal clear by the observation made with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile that material from such an outer disk is well capable of sustaining an inner one for a long time.

She added that this plays a major role in the formation of a planet. According to the researchers, planet formation takes a very long time and the lifeline process at GG Tau-A could provide insight into the frequency with which exoplanets are continually being discovered in binary systems. But for that, the so called lifeline process needs to occur in more multiple-star systems.

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