Institute for Astronomy Faculty & Researcher Works

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 4 of 4
  • Item
    Imaging the water snow-line during a protostellar outburst
    (Nature, 2016-07-14) Cieza, Lucas A. ; Casassus, Simon ; Tobin, John ; Bos, Steven ; Williams, Jonathan P. ; Perez, Sebastian ; Zhu, Zhaohuan ; Caceres, Claudio ; Canovas, Hector ; Dunham, Michael M. ; Hales, Antonio ; Prieto, Jose L. ; Principe, David A. ; Schreiber, Matthias R. ; Ruiz-Rodriguez, Dary ; Zurlo, Alice
    A snow-line is the region of a protoplanetary disk at which a major volatile, such as water or carbon monoxide, reaches its condensation temperature. Snow-lines play a crucial role in disk evolution by promoting the rapid growth of ice-covered grains^1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Signatures of the carbon monoxide snow-line (at temperatures of around 20 kelvin) have recently been imaged in the disks surrounding the pre-main-sequence stars TW Hydra^7, 8, 9 and HD163296 (refs 3, 10), at distances of about 30 astronomical units (au) from the star. But the water snow-line of a protoplanetary disk (at temperatures of more than 100 kelvin) has not hitherto been seen, as it generally lies very close to the star (less than 5 au away for solar-type stars^11). Water-ice is important because it regulates the efficiency of dust and planetesimal coagulation5, and the formation of comets, ice giants and the cores of gas giants^12. Here we report images at 0.03-arcsec resolution (12 au) of the protoplanetary disk around V883 Ori, a protostar of 1.3 solar masses that is undergoing an outburst in luminosity arising from a temporary increase in the accretion rate^13. We find an intensity break corresponding to an abrupt change in the optical depth at about 42 au, where the elevated disk temperature approaches the condensation point of water, from which we conclude that the outburst has moved the water snow-line. The spectral behaviour across the snow-line confirms recent model predictions^14: dust fragmentation and the inhibition of grain growth at higher temperatures results in soaring grain number densities and optical depths. As most planetary systems are expected to experience outbursts caused by accretion during their formation^15, 16, our results imply that highly dynamical water snow-lines must be considered when developing models of disk evolution and planet formation.
  • Item
    A Neptune-sized transiting planet closely orbiting a 5–10-million-year-old star
    (Nature, 2016-06-21) David, Trevor J. ; Hillenbrand, Lynne A. ; Petigura, Erik A. ; Carpenter, John M. ; Crossfield, Ian J. M. ; Hinkley, Sasha ; Ciardi, David R. ; Howard, Andrew W. ; Isaacson, Howard T. ; Cody, Ann Marie ; Schlieder, Joshua E. ; Beichman, Charles A. ; Barenfeld, Scott A.
    Theories of the formation and early evolution of planetary systems postulate that planets are born in circumstellar disks, and undergo radial migration during and after dissipation of the dust and gas disk from which they formed^1, 2. The precise ages of meteorites indicate that planetesimals—the building blocks of planets—are produced within the first million years of a star’s life^3. Fully formed planets are frequently detected on short orbital periods around mature stars. Some theories suggest that the in situ formation of planets close to their host stars is unlikely and that the existence of such planets is therefore evidence of large-scale migration^4, 5. Other theories posit that planet assembly at small orbital separations may be common^6, 7, 8. Here we report a newly born, transiting planet orbiting its star with a period of 5.4 days. The planet is 50 per cent larger than Neptune, and its mass is less than 3.6 times that of Jupiter (at 99.7 per cent confidence), with a true mass likely to be similar to that of Neptune. The star is 5–10 million years old and has a tenuous dust disk extending outward from about twice the Earth–Sun separation, in addition to the fully formed planet located at less than one-twentieth of the Earth–Sun separation.
  • Item
    Detection of argon in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
    (Science Advances, 2015-09) Balsiger, Hans ; Altwegg, Kathrin ; Bar-Nun, Akiva ; Berthelier, Jean-Jacques ; Bieler, Andre ; Bochsler, Peter ; Briois, Christelle ; Calmonte, Ursina ; Combi, Michael ; De Keyser, Johan ; Eberhardt, Peter ; Fiethe, Björn ; Fuselier, Stephen A. ; Gasc, Sébestien ; Gombosi, Tamas I. ; Hansen, Kenneth C. ; Hässig, Myrtha ; Jäckel, Annette ; Kopp, Ernest ; Korth, Axel ; Le Roy, Lena ; Mall, Urs ; Marty, Bernard ; Mousis, Olivier ; Owen, Tobias ; Rème, Henri ; Rubin, Martin ; Sémon, Thierry ; Tzou, Chia-Yu ; Waite, J. Hunter ; Wurz, Peter
    Comets have been considered to be representative of icy planetesimals that may have contributed a significant fraction of the volatile inventory of the terrestrial planets. For example, comets must have brought some water to Earth. However, the magnitude of their contribution is still debated. We report the detection of argon and its relation to the water abundance in the Jupiter family comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by in situ measurement of the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) mass spectrometer aboard the Rosetta spacecraft. Despite the very low intensity of the signal, argon is clearly identified by the exact determination of the mass of the isotope 36Ar and by the 36Ar/38Ar ratio. Because of time variability and spatial heterogeneity of the coma, only a range of the relative abundance of argon to water can be given. Nevertheless, this range confirms that comets of the type 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko cannot be the major source of Earth’s major volatiles.
  • Item
    Quasi-periodic acceleration of electrons by a plasmoid-driven shock in the solar atmosphere
    (Nature Physics, 2013-10) Carley, Eoin P. ; Long, David M. ; Byrne, Jason P. ; Zucca, Pietro ; Bloomfield, D. Shaun ; McCauley, Joseph ; Gallagher, Peter T.
    Cosmic rays and solar energetic particles may be accelerated to relativistic energies by shock waves in astrophysical plasmas. On the Sun, shocks and particle acceleration are often associated with the eruption of magnetized plasmoids, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). However, the physical relationship between CMEs and shock particle acceleration is not well understood. Here, we use extreme ultraviolet, radio and white-light imaging of a solar eruptive event on 22 September 2011 to show that a CME-induced shock (Alfvén Mach number 2:4+0:7 -0:8) was coincident with a coronal wave and an intense metric radio burst generated by intermittent acceleration of electrons to kinetic energies of 2{46 keV (0.1{0.4 c). Our observations show that plasmoid-driven quasi-perpendicular shocks are capable of producing quasi-periodic acceleration of electrons, an effect consistent with a turbulent or rippled plasma shock surface.