SMA Research: Massive Binary Protoplanetary Disks in the Orion Nebula

At left is a Submillimeter Array (SMA) image of the 880 m continuum emission from a suspected binary system in the Orion Nebula, which allowed the masses of both protoplanetary disks to be determined. At right is the HST discovery image of the disk by Smith et al. (2005), which shows the disk in silhouette against the bright background nebula. The SMA image combines data taken in the compact and very extended configurations of the array in 2008 December and 2009 March. SMA contours begin at 3, where =2mJy is the rms noise level in the map, and each step represents a factor of 1.5 in intensity. The synthesized beam size is shown at the bottom right. Both images have the same field of view, 3x3. This disk system is a rare observation of a binary in which both stars have a substantial reservoir of raw, planet-building material. Disk 253-1536a is more massive than any previously observed Orion disk and both disks are individually massive enough to potentially form Solar Systems, with masses of 0.07 M_sun and 0.02 M_sun, for 253-1536a and b, respectively.

Science Publication

  • Rita Mann (Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii), et al. Massive Binary Protoplanetary Disks in the Orion Nebula, 2009, ApJ, 699, L55-L58

  • Orion Nebula

    Ritt Mann (Institute of Astronomy, University of Hawaii), 2009
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