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Published September 30, 2016 | Submitted
Journal Article Open

Spiral density waves in a young protoplanetary disk


Gravitational forces are expected to excite spiral density waves in protoplanetary disks, disks of gas and dust orbiting young stars. However, previous observations that showed spiral structure were not able to probe disk midplanes, where most of the mass is concentrated and where planet formation takes place. Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, we detected a pair of trailing symmetric spiral arms in the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star Elias 2-27. The arms extend to the disk outer regions and can be traced down to the midplane. These millimeter-wave observations also reveal an emission gap closer to the star than the spiral arms. We argue that the observed spirals trace shocks of spiral density waves in the midplane of this young disk.

Additional Information

© 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science. 6 April 2016; accepted 5 September 2016. We thank L. Loinard for useful discussions. L.M.P. acknowledges support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. A.I. acknowledges support from NSF award AST-1109334/1535809 and from the NASA Origins of Solar Systems program through award NNX14AD26G. A.I.S. is partially supported by NSF grant AST 1140063. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a facility of the National Science Foundation (NSF) operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities Inc. (AUI). This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#2013.1.00498.S, which can be obtained from the ALMA Science Data Archive, https://almascience.nrao.edu/alma-data (raw format) and from https://safe.nrao.edu/evla/disks/elias2-27 in the calibrated fits format used for analysis here. ALMA is a partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and the National Institute of Natural Sciences (Japan), together with the National Research Council (Canada), National Science Council and Academia Sinica's Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Taiwan), and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO, and the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.

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