Spiral Structure of Disk May Reveal Planets
Scientists have known that planets form in a broad disk of dust and gas surrounding a star, a so-called "protoplanetary disk." However, the composition of these special disks as well as the process by which they give rise to planets have remained a mystery. The bright light of a central star makes it difficult to detect fainter objects around it or to capture a detailed image of the composition of the disk itself. Recent research with HiCIAO, Subaru Telecope's "planet-hunter", has overcome some of those obstacles. By masking the bright light from the central star, the instrument can then detect more detailed features of the star's disk and the objects that it contains.