ALMA/NRAO: The Strange Orbits of "Tatooine" Planetary Disks

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ALMA/NRAO: The Strange Orbits of "Tatooine" Planetary Disks

Post by bystander » Fri Mar 20, 2020 3:36 pm

The Strange Orbits of "Tatooine" Planetary Disks
ALMA | NRAO | 2020 Mar 19
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found striking orbital geometries in protoplanetary disks around binary stars. While disks orbiting the most compact binary star systems share very nearly the same plane, disks encircling wide binaries have orbital planes that are severely tilted. These systems can teach us about planet formation in complex environments.

In the last two decades, thousands of planets have been found orbiting stars other than our Sun. Some of these planets orbit two stars, just like Luke Skywalker’s home Tatooine. Planets are born in protoplanetary disks – we now have wonderful observations of these thanks to ALMA – but most of the disks studied so far orbit single stars. ‘Tatooine’ exoplanets form in disks around binary stars, so-called circumbinary disks.

Studying the birthplaces of ‘Tatooine’ planets provides a unique opportunity to learn about how planets form in different environments. Astronomers already know that the orbits of binary stars can warp and tilt the disk around them, resulting in a circumbinary disk misaligned relative to the orbital plane of its host stars. ...

The Degree of Alignment between Circumbinary Disks and Their Binary Hosts ~ Ian Czekala et al
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