Discovery of a Large Dust Disk Around the Nearby Star AU Microscopii

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Science  26 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5666, pp. 1990-1992
DOI: 10.1126/science.1093420

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We present the discovery of a circumstellar dust disk surrounding AU Microscopii (AU Mic, GJ 803, HD 197481). This young M star at 10 parsec has the same age and origin as β Pictoris, another nearby star surrounded by a dust disk. The AU Mic disk is detected between 50 astronomical units (AU) and 210 AU radius, a region where dust lifetimes exceed the present stellar age. Thus, AU Mic is the nearest star where we directly observe the solid material required for planet formation. Because 85% of stars are M-type, the AU Mic disk provides new clues on how the majority of planetary systems might form and evolve.

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