Astronomers discovered two protostars creating future planets
Astronomers have recently discovered a pair of newborn stars kicking up shock waves by creating the material for new planets. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, astronomers have captured the picture of two circumstellar disks. The disks contain two growing protostars fed by a complex network of dust and gas.
The new stars are in their first hundred thousand years of life and continue to feed on a nearby disk of dust and gas surrounding them. Astronomers have noticed three hot spots in the disk. Two of the three hotspots have more dense organic particles than the rest of the cloud.
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Astrophysicist Maris Jose Maureira conducted a study on two protostars at the Max Plank Institute for Astronomical Physics. Her colleagues suggested that the protostars created shock waves that heated the dust patches and created a favorable environment for building organic molecules. The work is also published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
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The two protostars share a name, IRAS 16293-2422 A, and they orbit around a common center of gravity. Researchers refer to the stars as A1 and A2 and found them orbiting each other at a close distance of 54 au.
Effect of shock waves
The two stars orbit so close to each other that it makes the gravity in their neighborhood too complex. The stars feed on the nearby material and occasionally fling rejected morsels into the surrounding disk. Simulations suggest that their proximity can produce powerful shock waves in the disk of dust and gas surrounding them.
The gas becomes compressed and heated as the shock waves pass through the gas cloud. The dust grains also get hotter after colliding with the heated gas molecules. It pushes the molecules into a smaller and tighter space creating an environment to connect and become more complex molecules.
The hotspots spotted by the ALMA are too far from the stars. According to Maureira, the locations and temperatures closely match the predictions about what may happen when the shock waves heat the gas and dust around the stars. The two closely revolving infant stars at the heart of dusty disks send ripples through the disk, leaving a trail of chemical reactions and hotspots.
Why it matters
These chemical reactions produce isocyanic acid, a combination of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. The solar system forming around A1 and A2 is seeded with complex molecules, and some of them could eventually turn into the building blocks for life.
No planets have formed from a cloud of gas and dust. The existing system of stars is still in its first 500,000 years of life. However, another recent study suggests that the building blocks of planets may begin to merge from the dust and gas surrounding protostars A1 and A2. The shockwaves originating from the two stars at their center may play a significant role in forming planets.
The European Southern Observatory said in an announcement that the heat originating from these shock waves might also alter how dust particles bond together and how early the planetary cores can form.
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