Astronomers discover planet-forming ‘lifeline’ in a Binary system, GG Tau-A

Astronomers discover planet-forming ‘lifeline’ in a Binary system, GG Tau-A

Researchers have detected a streamer of dust and gas structure in a binary star system called GG Tau-A, a solar system comprising of two stars. The system is a few million years old and is located about 460 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.

The astronomers found that an odd binary system, GTau-A, comprises two disks of matter encircling the system. The system contains a large outer disk encircling the entire system as well as an inner disk around the main central star.

This inner disk has a mass that's equivalent to about that of Jupiter and has been a source of intrigue among astronomers. The reason being, this central star seems to be losing material at a rate that should have caused it to be depleted a long time ago.

The scientists have gotten a closer look at this inner disk and may have found out its function. A research group led by Anne Dutrey from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France and CNRS used the Atacama LargeMillimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile to observe the distribution of dust and gas in the unusual GG Tau-A system.

The scientists found clumps of dust and gas in the region between the two discs. This observation suggests that material is likely being transferred from the outer to the inner disk. This has likely achieved a balance that allows both to continue to exist a 'lifeline'.

Anne Dutrey said, "Detecting these clumps indicates that material is moving between the disks, allowing one to feed off the other. These observations demonstrate that material from the outer disk can sustain the inner disk for a long time. This has major consequences for potential planet formation".

Since at least half of Sun-like stars are the product of binary star systems, these types of findings might help to discover exoplanets.

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