Normally, such a dust disk stop existing about 30 million years, but this disc is 45 million years old!
We see often around young stars: a gas and dust disk. Material in the disk collides with another and clump together and so it can form planets.
Astronomers have now – with some help of the public – discovered a red dwarf who owns such dust and gas disk. But what’s so special about this red dwarf is that they are dust disk has managed to exist for so long. “This kind of disks usually disappear within 30 million years,” says researcher Steven Silverberg. But there are strong indications that this star – and therefore the disc surrounding it – is much older: about 45 million years.
Determining the age of a star is usually quite difficult. But this red dwarf seems to belong to a group of stars that are all about the same age. And that made the determination of the age of the star easier. “More observations are needed to determine whether the star is really as old as we think,” says researcher Jonathan Gagné.
Big question is whether planets are actually forming. It could certainly. Most exoplanets that have emerged have been found are emerged from a disk such as we now see around the red dwarf. In addition, this star is similar to the star which is closest to the earth – Proxima Centauri – and which it has recently been demonstrated that it also possesses a planet .
The discovery of this star and dust disc comes from the Disk Detective project. This project is focused on the discovery of new and dust disks around young stars and draws from data collected among others by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).
Now it is of course impossible task for a handful of researchers to dig through all that data, so they appealed to the public. With success, because about 30,000 people have delved in the data since January 2014. “Without their help we would never have found this object,” says researcher Marc Kuchner. “The WISE mission alone spotted 747 million objects, of which several thousand are expected to have a dust disc.”