Research in the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences (SSP) Division is directed toward understanding star and planet formation and the physical processes in the Sun, stars, and stellar systems. Division research on the Sun addresses its basic stellar properties, its atmosphere and corona, and its effects on the Earth. Studies of other stars seek to measure the age and chemical composition and to understand the structure of surrounding disks, magnetic fields, and winds. Searches for objects in our own solar system and for extra-solar planets inform theoretical investigations of star and planet formation and evolution. Observational data are obtained from ground-based observatories (such as the MMT Observatory, Magellan, and the Whipple Observatory) and from satellites including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, the Far Ultraviolet Spectrographic Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Accretion Disks

Vertical Tabs

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Disk accretion powers many astronomical objects. Most interacting binaries and many pre-main sequence stars contain rapidly-evolving disks. More slowly-evolving, dusty disks orbit the Sun and β Pic.