Gemini Observatory | NSF NOIRLab | 2020 Jun 24
These orange swirls of dust are snapshots from the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of dusty debris disks around young stars — published this week by an international group of astronomers. The images — captured by the 8-meter Gemini South telescope using the Gemini Planet Imager — illustrate the variety of shapes and sizes that stellar systems can take during their infancy. Unexpectedly, the majority of these systems display evidence of planet formation.
- Six circumstellar disks selected from the larger sample of 26 disks obtained with the Gemini South telescope in Chile using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). These images highlight the diversity of shapes and sizes that these disks can take and show the outer reaches of star systems in their formative years. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Esposito (UC Berkeley) Image processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani & Davide de Martin
These remarkable portraits of dusty disks are a selection from 26 new images of debris disks obtained by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) at the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. These images highlight the diversity of shapes and sizes that these disks can take and show the outer reaches of exoplanetary systems in their formative years. The young stars imaged, which range from tens of millions to a few hundred million years old, are at the ideal age to settle down and raise planets. The forming planets sculpt the dust disk and leave behind gaps and warps that are indirect clues to their existence and motion.
While debris disks have been imaged before, this new cohort of 26 disks represents one of the largest samples to be imaged with highly uniform data quality. This enables detailed comparison of the observations, a unique breakthrough in debris disk surveys. Thirteen of the disks form a perfect natural laboratory, all belonging to the Scorpius–Centaurus stellar association, roughly 400 light-years from Earth. The group of stars, which were born in the same region at roughly the same time, enables astronomers to compare the architectures of a variety of young planetary systems developing under different conditions. ...
Debris Disk Results from the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet
Survey's Polarimetric Imaging Campaign ~ Thomas M. Esposito et al