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Lowell Observatory Researchers Aid In Discovering New Insights Into Planet Formation in Binary Star Systems

Four researchers from Lowell Observatory helped develop new insights into planet formation in binary star systems. Lowell astronomer Dr. Lisa Prato, post-doctoral fellow Dr. Taylor Kutra, research assistant Peter Knowlton, and research assistant Jacob Hyden participated in this study. The research was conducted using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and spectroscopy, or the study of the absorption and emission of light and other radiation by matter, at the Keck II 10-meter telescope in Hawaii. The focus was on disks of gas and dust which over time, clumps into planets. The study looked at the formation of disks in binary star systems, meaning a solar system with two stars. Researchers compared DF Tau to FO Tau, two binary star systems. Researchers analyzed disk properties, such as size, underlying structure, and the tilt of its orbit, and compared it to characteristics of stars like rotation speed and magnetic field strength. The insights gained from this study enhance researchers’ comprehension of disk dynamics and will aid in future discoveries regarding planet formation.

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