ASTROPHYSICS: Planets in the Mist

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Science  16 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5584, pp. 1095e-1097e
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5584.1095e

T Tauri stars are considered active adolescents in stellar terms (less than 10 million years old). When they grow up, they will become solar-type stars. Classical T Tauri stars are less than 1 million years old and possess a circumstellar disk from which gaseous giant planets may form. It has been thought that it would take more than 1 million years to form a planet, and classical T Tauri stars have been thought to have lost their circumstellar disks, becoming weak-lined (naked or diskless) T Tauri stars, precluding the possibility of planet formation.

Bary et al. have now detected emission from excited molecular hydrogen coming from within 100 astronomical units of a naked T Tauri star, DoAr 21. Thus, DoAr 21 may still possess a circumstellar disk, and planets may have time to form around these older T Tauri stars. For this and similar T Tauri stars, planetary precursors or planetesimals may be cloaking the disks, making them difficult to detect. — LR

Astrophys. J. Rapid Release 25 July 2002 [astro-ph/0207626].

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