TW Hydrae

The image below is an artist's conception of the surface of the 10 Myr-old star TW Hydrae (TW Hya). This young star is surrounded by a disk of gas and dust (the dull orange ring-like structure at the edge of the frame). Material from the inner edge of the disk rains onto the stellar surface, as indicated by the white, wispy trails. Once this gas hits the star, it produces bright spots. The energy of the accreted gas produces a wind of outflowing material, shown by the trails.

At a distance of only 100 light years, TW Hya is the nearest young star with an opaque circumstellar disk. CfA scientists in the Radio and Geoastronomy division use the Submillimeter Array to study the structure and chemistry of the disk. In the SSP division, scientists use Magellan, the MMT, and other ground-based and satellite telescopes to study the accreted gas and the ejected material in this and other young stars.


Section Photo