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News Release 18 of 31

January 6, 2003 01:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2003-02

Hubble Reveals Complex Circumstellar Disk

An American Astronomical Society Meeting Release

January 6, 2003: NASA Hubble Space Telescope's new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) has given astronomers their clearest view yet of the dust disk around a young, 5-million-year-old star. Such disks are expected to be the birthplace of planets. The star, called HD 141569A, lies 320 light-years away in the constellation Libra and appears to be a member of a triple-star system. The image at left shows the star and disk as it appears in space. The system is slightly tilted when viewed from Earth. The photo at right portrays the system if astronomers could view it from above.

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Q & A: Understanding the Discovery

  1. 1. What do the pictures show?

  2. The ACS reveals that the disk's structure is much more complex than previously thought. The disk is actually a tightly wound spiral structure. The outer regions of the disk reveal two diffuse spiral arms, one of which appears to be associated with the nearby double-star system HD 141569BC, seen at upper left. The apparent connection between the disk and the double star suggests that an interaction with the double star may be responsible for the structures seen in the disk.

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Credit: NASA, M. Clampin (STScI), H. Ford (JHU), G. Illingworth (UCO/Lick), J. Krist (STScI), D. Ardila (JHU), D. Golimowski (JHU), the ACS Science Team and ESA