Feeds

Planets could put the brakes on young stars

Lindsay Lohan, take note

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The very early stages of planet formation could be responsible for putting the brakes on fast-spinning young stars, according to astronomers using the Spitzer infrared space telescope.

The researchers have found that slow spinning stars are five times more likely than their speedier cousins to be encircled by a disk of proto-planetary dust.

Dr Luisa Rebull of NASA's Spitzer Science Centre, lead author on the study, commented: "We knew that something must be keeping the stars' speed in check. Disks were the most logical answer, but we had to wait for Spitzer to see the disks."

Young stars spin around incredibly fast, some making a complete revolution in less than half a day. This is because of how they form: clouds of spinning gas collapse in on themselves, spinning faster and faster, just as an ice skater will when he pulls his arms in as he spins.

As it spins, excess dust and gas will flatten and form disks around the newly ignited star. The disk rotates much more slowly, and astronomers had suggested that the disk might interact with the star's magnetic field somehow and act as a brake.

We know something has to. Left to itself, a star spinning at a rate of a revolution every half day will not form planets. In addition, every single star that has been observed with planets so far, has been a relatively slow spinner, like our sun.

To test the idea that the disks do slow stars down, Rebull trained the Spitzer telescope on a region of the Orion Nebula, and surveyed 500 young stars.

She split the stars into fast spinners and slow spinners, and then used Spitzer to determine which were surrounded by disks. Slower stars turned out to be five times more likely to have disks than their faster colleagues.

Rebull concedes that this is not conclusive evidence for the exact mechanism of braking, but stresses that at least: "We can now say that disks play some kind of role in slowing down stars in at least one region."

She adds that other factors could be operating in tandem with the braking effect of a disk, and that different stars in different environments could behave differently.

The research is published in the 20 July issue of the Astrophysical Journal. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.