CAS News and Highlights

Stellar systems like our own form inside interstellar clouds of gas and dust that collapse producing young stars surrounded by protoplanetary disks. Planets form within these protoplanetary disks, leaving clear gaps, which have been recently observed in evolved systems, at the time when the mother cloud has been cleared out. ALMA has now revealed an evolved protoplanetary disk with a large gap still being fed by the surrounding cloud via large accretion filaments. This shows that accretion of material onto the protoplanetary disk is continuing for times longer than previously thought, affecting the evolution of the future planetary system. more

ALMA shows rings around the still-growing proto-star IRS 63 more

This autumn, Silvia Spezzano will start her new Max Planck Research Group (MPRG) at MPE. Over the next five years, she will study the chemical link in-between different stages of star and planetary system formation, and provide crucial constraints to our astrochemical origins. MPRGs are a key part of support of junior scientists in the Max Planck Society, offering internationally competitive packages for personnel, start-up money, and yearly operating costs. more

A team of astronomers have observed for the first time the columns of matter that build newborn stars. This detailed look inside the young stellar system, using the GRAVITY instrument built at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and operated at the ESO Very Large Telescopes, revealed that the material is guided by magnetic fields and comes from the disks surrounding these stars, the same disks that eventually give rise to planets. In fact, our Solar System would have gone through this process 5 billion years ago when it formed. more

For the first time, astronomers have observed a conveyor belt from the outskirts of a star-forming dense cloud directly depositing material near a pair of young forming stars. Scientists at the German Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) and the French Institut de Radioastonomie Millimétrique (IRAM) found that gas motions in the conveyor belt, dubbed a 'streamer', mainly obey the gravitational pull of the innermost part of the core, near the protostar pair.  The streamer delivers a large amount of gas with chemicals recently produced in the mother cloud surrounding the star-forming region directly to the young protostars at the center of the core.  These results are striking evidence that the large-scale environment around forming stars has an important influence on small-scale disk formation and evolution. more

Laboratory experiments performed at the Centre for Astrochemical Studies (CAS) of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) in Munich, together with astronomical observations conducted by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF), lead to the identification of a new molecule in the molecular cloud known as G+0.693-0.027, close to the Galactic centre. The newly discovered molecule is called propargylimine: according to the experts, this chemical species may play a fundamental role in the formation of amino acids, among the key ingredients for life as we know it. more

High-resolution observations of a young star forming system clearly unveil a pair of proto-stars at their earliest stages of evolution deeply embedded within the source IRAS 16293-2422 in the Ophiuchus molecular cloud. The team led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics used the ALMA interferometer not only to pin down the source configuration, but also to measure the gas and stellar kinematics, determining the mass of the young binary. The two close proto-stars are somewhat heavier than previously thought and they revolve around each other once in about 400 years. more

High-resolution images of a young stellar binary system for the first time reveal a complex network of accretion filaments nurturing two proto-stars at the centre of the circum-binary disk. With these observations, an international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics was able to identify a two-level accretion process, circum-binary disk to circumstellar disk to stars, constraining the conditions leading to the formation and evolution of binary star systems. more

How do stars and planets form? Scientists are now one step closer to pinning down the conditions for the formation of proto-stellar disks. Observations of three systems in the early stages of star formation in the Perseus cloud revealed that the profile of the angular momentum in these systems is between that expected for a solid body and pure turbulence, indicating that the influence of the core extends further out than previously thought. These findings could lead to more realistic initial conditions for numerical simulations of disk formation. more

Water trapped in dust grains from which the Earth formed can explain the current large amount of water on Earth. This is suggested by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, based on calculations and simulations. The research will appear in two articles in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. more

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