PerspectiveAstrophysics

Detecting structure in a protostellar disk

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  30 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6307, pp. 1492-1493
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2855

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

It is now well accepted that stars form from clouds of gas and dust that collapse under their own gravity (1). However, if all the material fell directly onto the young protostar, it would spin up so much that it would ultimately tear itself apart. Instead, most of the material will initially form a thin, rotationally supported, protostellar disk. On page 1519 of this issue, Pérez et al. (2) present a high-resolution image of such a disk, using the Atacama Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). It is this disk that provides mechanisms for transporting angular momentum outward—allowing mass to accrete onto the central protostar—and is the site of planet formation (see the illustration).