An artist’s impression, based on observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, of a binary star system with a thick disc of gas and dust tilted at right angles to the orbital plane of the two stars. Image: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick
An astronomer at the University of Warwick has found the first binary star system with a thick disc of gas and dust positioned a right angles to the stars’ orbits. In what would be a truly spectacular view, an alien on a planet near the inner edge of the dust ring would see the disc extending almost perpendicular to the horizon with the two stars moving into and out of the plane of the disc.
“Disks rich in gas and dust are seen around nearly all young stars, and we know that at least a third of the ones orbiting single stars form planets,” said Grant M. Kennedy. “Some of these planets end up being misaligned with the spin of the star, so we’ve been wondering whether a similar thing might be possible for circumbinary planets.
“A quirk of the dynamics means that a so-called polar misalignment should be possible, but until now we had no evidence of ...