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Session 79 - Special Objects in the Galaxy.
Oral session, Thursday, June 11
An edge-on disk has been detected surrounding the binary companion to the classical T Tauri star HK Tau. The disk was discovered and imaged using a speckle technique in the near-infrared at the Keck 1 telescope, and independently at visible wavelengths by Stapelfeldt et al. using the Hubble Space Telescope. The disk, which extends to a radius of a least 50 AU, lies in an edge-on orientation as seen from Earth, and it is opaque enough at its midplane to hide the star from direct view at these wavelengths; instead, the disk is seen in light scattered along its surface. It is strikingly coherent despite the gravitational perturbations from the primary star 340 AU (projected on the sky) away. The modest thickness of the disk at its edge suggests that the dust may have settled toward the midplane, which in turn argues for a very modest total mass, on the order of 1 M_J.
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Program listing for Thursday