Scientists and space enthusiasts stumbled upon an unhoped-for discovery as the oldest planetary disk found as yet was discovered in a most unexpected location.
The research, which was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters academic journal was carried out by a team of University of Oklahoma scientists led by astronomer Steven Silverberg.
The discovery of the disk is also attributed to a group of eight citizen scientists involved in NASA’s DiskDetective.org program and website.
The outer space and the objects populating it have always fascinated scientists as they tried to unravel their mystery, but the recent discovery of the oldest planetary disk has gone to pose more questions as it was also found in a most unlikely location.
A planetary disk is the term used for the birth location of a cluster of young stars. These stars usually form disk-shaped dust, gas, and planetesimals around them, elements which are considered to be building blocks and very important in the planetary creation process.
Most such disks have a relatively short space duration, as they fizzle out after a somewhat reduced million years number. According to Silverberg, most such disks dissolve after no more than 30 million years.
But the latest disk to be discovered, revealed signs that point to its being over 45 million years old, which would mark it as the oldest ever found although the star that led to its discovery, the AWI0005x3s, is amongst the youngest space objects.
The red circumstellar disk was also found in an unexpected position, towards one of the galaxy’s known corners.
The AWI0005x3s is thought to be a part of the Carina association, which is the name given to a number of stars that were formed in the same stellar location at approximately the same time.
As all the red dwarf stars found in the Carina are considered to be over 40 million years old, the current find could mark it as the oldest association of the type ever found by astronomers and scientists.
What makes the current find even more spectacular is the fact that the AWI0005x3s, according to preliminary analysis, is a young star that inhabits an old planetary disk.
If the star turns out to be as old as the planetary disk, it could prove to be a turning stone in the scientists’ understanding and knowledge of the red dwarf and circumstellar disks in their entirety.
Image Source: Wikimedia