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Young Planetary Disks Blown Away by Massive Stars in Orion

6 March, 2014 / Read time: 1 minute

In this short video, Dr. Rita K. Mann narrates a journey into the Orion Nebula, where the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has revealed massive stars ejecting dust and gas from the protoplanetary disk from which planets form, creating what astronomers call “proplyds,” an acronym for ionized protoplanetary disks.

This process, in which highly energetic photons heat and sweep away the matter that makes up the disk, is called photoevaporation, and is a major threat to planet formation around a star. Thanks to ALMA's incredible resolution, we have obtained the first evidence of stars that have obliterated their surrounding protoplanetary disk.

Narration: Dr. Rita l. Mann
Video and Images: Bill Saxton and Brian Kent (NRAO/AUI/NSF)
Model: Brian Abbot (AMNH/Hayden)
Data: Hillenbrand, L., 1997, AJ, 113, 1733; NASA/ESA; Bill Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); M. Robberto (Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA); Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team; NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Bally et al.; Smith et al.; NASA, C.R. O'Dell and S.K. Wong (Rice University)
Music: Mark Mercury