This “cosmic butterfly” is a huge planetary factory

This “cosmic butterfly” is a huge planetary factory

The object is officially known as IRAS 23077+6707 or simply IRAS 23077. It is about a thousand light-years away and was first observed in 2016 by Cyprian T. Bergia of the US Naval Observatory, using the Fast and Panoramic Survey Telescope. Response System (Pan-STARRS). For years his true nature remained unknown.

Two new research articles finally provide a definitive answer. In the first article led by Bergia and accepted for publication in Astrophysical Journal LettersIRAS 23077 is said to be a young star at the center of a massive planet-forming disk. In the second article published last Monday Astrophysical Journal Letters As published, researchers confirmed the discovery of the disk using the Submillimeter Array (SMA) — an array of telescopes in Hawaii that detects light at millimeter wavelengths — a type of radio radiation.

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Planet-forming disks — which astronomers often call “protoplanetary disks” — are the nurseries surrounding young stars in which planets form. It is rich in dust and gas, and from the way the disk rotates, astronomers can tell its size and the mass of the central star.

IRAS 23077’s diameter is approximately 3,300 times the distance between Earth and the Sun, making it twice the size of the previous record holder. The disk contains enough gas and dust to form many giant planets at great distances from the central star.

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