VLA Reveals "Smoking Gun" on Multiple-Star Formation Process
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ARTIST'S CONCEPTION of proposed formation process for the multiple-star system L1551 IRS5, as revealed by observations with the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope. Top panel: large disk-like cloud of gas and dust rotates. Middle panel: two smaller disks of gas and dust fragment from the large disk and begin to condense into protostars, each having its own surrounding disk and shooting "jets" of material outward from the poles of its disk. Bottom panel: A third, smaller disk and protostar joins the sytem, either through the same fragmentation process or by being captured gravitationally by the larger protostars.

Top Panel

Middle Panel

Bottom Panel

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VLA Image of L1551 IRS 5. The two large objects are the two main protostars in the system with their surrounding disks of gas and dust. The extension coming out of the lower left of the top one is the newly-discovered third protostar in the system.
CREDIT: Lim & Takakuwa, NRAO/AUI/NSF

VLA Images of the multiple-star system and the larger, surrounding gas-and-dust disk. At left, the protostars are shown with the direction of their orbits indicated. At right, the larger disk is shown in a contour-map image, with the direction of its rotation indicated by arrows. The molecular pseudodisk image at right is adapted from Momose et al., Astrophysical Journal 504, 314, 1998.
CREDIT: Lim & Takakuwa, NRAO/AUI/NSF

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Modified on Friday, 15-Dec-2006 10:26:35 EST