Research ArticleASTRONOMY

Circumstellar disks of the most vigorously accreting young stars

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Science Advances  05 Feb 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 2, e1500875
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500875

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Stars may not accumulate their mass steadily, as was previously thought, but in a series of violent events manifesting themselves as sharp stellar brightening. These events can be caused by fragmentation due to gravitational instabilities in massive gaseous disks surrounding young stars, followed by migration of dense gaseous clumps onto the star. Our high-resolution near-infrared imaging has verified the presence of the key associated features, large-scale arms and arcs surrounding four young stellar objects undergoing luminous outbursts. Our hydrodynamics simulations and radiative transfer models show that these observed structures can indeed be explained by strong gravitational instabilities occurring at the beginning of the disk formation phase. The effect of those tempestuous episodes of disk evolution on star and planet formation remains to be understood.

  • Astronomy
  • stars
  • young stars
  • circumstellar arms and arcs
  • disk formation phase

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