March 10, 2015
Astronomers have discovered dust disks around stars in stellar clusters that recently formed near the center of the Milky Way. Because these young clusters contain very hot stars that generate energetic, intense Ultraviolet radiation, such dust disks, the sites of planet formation around young stars, were previously thought to be rapidly destroyed. The discovery that these disks can survive such hot environments much longer holds new information on when and how planets may have formed, especially billions of years ago when galaxies formed stars at a much higher rate than today and similarly extreme conditions were far more prevalent than in today’s universe.
Fig. 1: Galactic Center with the Arches and Quintuplet star clusters. Intense wind and radiation forces of massive stars in the Quintuplet excavated the dense gas clouds surrounding the cluster, as indicated by the arrows. The dust disks around…
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