Direct Imaging of Bridged Twin Protoplanetary Disks in a Young Multiple Star

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Science  19 Nov 2009:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1179679


Studies of the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks are important for understanding star and planet formation. Here, we present the direct image of an interacting binary protoplanetary system. Both circumprimary and circumsecondary disks are resolved in the near-infrared. There is a bridge of infrared emission connecting the two disks and a long spiral arm extending from the circumprimary disk. Numerical simulations show that the bridge corresponds to gas flow and a shock wave caused by the collision of gas rotating around the primary and secondary stars. Fresh material streams along the spiral arm, consistent with the theoretical scenarios where gas is replenished from a circummultiple reservoir.