Anatomy of a Flaring Proto-Planetary Disk Around a Young Intermediate-Mass Star

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Science  27 Oct 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5799, pp. 621-623
DOI: 10.1126/science.1131436

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Although planets are being discovered around stars more massive than the Sun, information about the proto-planetary disks where such planets have built up is sparse. We have imaged mid-infrared emission from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at the surface of the disk surrounding the young intermediate-mass star HD 97048 and characterized the disk. The disk is in an early stage of evolution, as indicated by its large content of dust and its hydrostatic flared geometry, indicative of the presence of a large amount of gas that is well mixed with dust and gravitationally stable. The disk is a precursor of debris disks found around more-evolved A stars such as β-Pictoris and provides the rare opportunity to witness the conditions prevailing before (or during) planet formation.

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