In more beautiful science news, we bring you an artist’s illustration of the XZ Tau system. The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope system took a multi-year series of scientifically stunning but aesthetically ugly images of this system that show these two stars are orbiting one another in a volume small enough to easily fit within the orbit of Neptune.
This is the first time we’ve been able to measure the 3D structure and motions of a forming binary system, and what’s more, these weren’t targeted observations. No one said, “Let’s point ALMA at XZ Tau every few years.” These observations were taken as part of regular surveys, and these results come from researchers going through the archival data. This work appears in The Astrophysical Journal and was led by Takanori Ichikawa who explains: This is a beautiful example of utilizing the rich ALMA archive. The archive paves the way for young researchers to start conducting cutting-edge research right away.
The second author on this paper was Muyu Kido, an undergraduate at Kagoshima University.
NAOJ press release
“Misaligned Circumstellar Disks and Orbital Motion of the Young Binary XZ Tau,” Takanori Ichikawa et al., 2021 September 23, The Astrophysical Journal