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Session 47 - Circumstellar Disks & Shells.
Display session, Thursday, January 08
The existence of planetary systems around other stars is one of the most hotly debated issues in modern-day astronomy. A clue to such systems is the presence of disks of dust particles and gas out of which planets are thought to coagulate. In this paper we present the first submillimetre images of the dust around the nearby stars Beta Pictoris, Fomalhaut and Vega. In each case, the dust extent is comparable to the size of the Kuiper belt in the Solar System. For Beta Pictoris the dust emission closely follows that seen in optical images. In the case of Fomalhaut the dust distribution displays a central cavity approximately the size of our planetary system, and the image can be interpreted as an edge-on torus, within which planetary formation has begun. The results for Vega are the most challenging to current theories of planetary formation, and show a peak of the dust emission offset from the star. These results will be discussed more fully in the display paper.
Program listing for Thursday