Home > Astronomy, Exoplanets, General Astronomy, Star & Solar System Formation > Dust Grains Highlight The Path To Planet Formation

Dust Grains Highlight The Path To Planet Formation


An international team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Japanese universities of Kobe, Hyogo, and Saitama used the Subaru Telescope to capture a clear image of the protoplanetary disk of the star UX Tauri A. The team’s subsequent, detailed study of the disk’s characteristics suggests that its dust particles are large in size and non-spherical in shape. This exciting result shows that these dust grains are colliding with and adhering to each other, a process that will lead to their eventual formation into planets.

The team made a detailed study of UX Tau A in the near-infrared wavelengths. They measured the polarization (Note 2) of infrared light to find out the distribution of the dust particles that scattered the infrared light. Polarized light reflected from dust particles gives important information about planetary formation in disks. Even though dust particles only make up a tiny fraction of the protoplanetary disk, they can develop into planetesimals (solid objects less than a kilometer in diameter), and eventually, planets.

Full Story: http://www.naoj.org/Pressrelease/2012/11/27/index.html

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