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HubbleSite Astronomers Find Highly Elliptical Disk Around Young Star


Space Telescope Science

Dust and debris parade in an extremely misshapen ring around the young star, HD 15115. The disk, seen edge-on with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, is the dense blue line extending from the star to the upper right and lower left of the image. The disk appears thicker at upper right than at lower left, evidence of its lopsided structure. Astronomers think the disk's needle-like look is caused by dust particles following a highly elliptical orbit around the star. The lopsidedness may have been caused by planets sweeping up debris in the disk or by the gravity of a nearby star. An occulting mask on Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys was used to block out the bright starlight in order to see the dim disk. The occulting masks can be seen in the image as the dark circle in the center and the dark bar on the left. The star is behind the central mask. The Hubble image was taken on July 17, 2006. Follow-up observations in 2006 and 2007 with the W.M. Keck Observatory investigated the odd disk further.

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