Daily Telescope: A protostar with a stunning protoplanetary disc


FS Tau is a multi-star system.
Enlarge / FS Tau is a multi-star system.

NASA, ESA, K. Stapelfeldt (NASA JPL), G. Kober

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light, a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It’s March 26, and today’s photo comes from the Hubble Space Telescope. It showcases a very young multi-star system known as FS Tau.

This star system is only about 2.8 million years old. In terms of cosmic time, that is but a blink of the eye. It lies about 450-light-years away from Earth.

FS Tau A is the very bright object in the middle of the image. It is a T Tauri binary system, consisting of two young variable stars. FS Tau B is the bright object to the far right that is partially obscured by a dark, vertical lane of dust. It is a protostar, and it’s worth taking a moment to look a little bit closer at the dust separating the two halves of the star.

According to astronomers who captured this photo, FS Tau B “is surrounded by a protoplanetary disc, a pancake-shaped collection of dust and gas leftover from the formation of the star that will eventually coalesce into planets. The thick dust lane, seen nearly edge-on, separates what are thought to be the illuminated surfaces of the disc.”

That is pretty awesome.

Source: NASA, ESA, K. Stapelfeldt (NASA JPL), G. Kober

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