10 October, 2012
Observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed an unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star R Sculptoris. This spiral, along with the surrounding outer shell, has never been seen before and is probably caused by a hidden companion star orbiting the star. This new video shows a computer simulation of how the material is distributed around the star. It presents a series of slices through a 3D model of the surroundings of R Sculptoris. The shell around the star shows up as a circular ring that appears to get bigger and then smaller in different slices. The newly discovered clear spiral structure in the inner material is best seen about half-way through the video sequence.
Credit: ESO/S. Mohamed (SAAO), L. Calçada