Research ArticleASTRONOMY

First detection of equatorial dark dust lane in a protostellar disk at submillimeter wavelength

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Science Advances  19 Apr 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 4, e1602935
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602935

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In the earliest (so-called “Class 0”) phase of Sun-like (low-mass) star formation, circumstellar disks are expected to form, feeding the protostars. However, these disks are difficult to resolve spatially because of their small sizes. Moreover, there are theoretical difficulties in producing these disks in the earliest phase because of the retarding effects of magnetic fields on the rotating, collapsing material (so-called “magnetic braking”). With the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), it becomes possible to uncover these disks and study them in detail. HH 212 is a very young protostellar system. With ALMA, we not only detect but also spatially resolve its disk in dust emission at submillimeter wavelength. The disk is nearly edge-on and has a radius of ~60 astronomical unit. It shows a prominent equatorial dark lane sandwiched between two brighter features due to relatively low temperature and high optical depth near the disk midplane. For the first time, this dark lane is seen at submillimeter wavelength, producing a “hamburger”-shaped appearance that is reminiscent of the scattered-light image of an edge-on disk in optical and near infrared light. Our observations open up an exciting possibility of directly detecting and characterizing small disks around the youngest protostars through high-resolution imaging with ALMA, which provides strong constraints on theories of disk formation.

  • accretion
  • accretion disks
  • ISM: individual objects (HH 212)
  • ISM: jets and outflows
  • stars: formation

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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