September 30, 2022

Hubble Watches a Cosmic Bat Shadow “Flapping”

It is the shadow of a protoplanetary disc orbiting the star in the center of the image. The young star HBC 672 is understood by its label of Bat Shadow because of its wing-like shadow feature. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has actually now observed a curious “flapping” motion in the shadow of the stars disc for the first time. If it tries to go along the airplane of the disc, it doesnt get out, and it casts a shadow,” described lead author Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, USA, whose group have published these results.

The disc is a circling around structure of dust, gas, and rock, and is too far-off and too small to be seen, even by Hubble. However, based upon the projected shadow, researchers do know that its height-to-radius ratio is 1:5.
For more on this research study, see Hubble Spots Cosmic Flapping “Bat Shadow” in Outer Space.
Reference: “Variability of the Great Disk Shadow in Serpens” by Klaus M. Pontoppidan, Joel D. Green, Tyler A. Pauly, Colette Salyk and Joseph DePasquale, 25 June 2020, Astrophysical Journal.DOI: 10.3847/ 1538-4357/ ab91ae.

This image shows just the feature which was nicknamed the Bat Shadow. It is the shadow of a protoplanetary disc orbiting the star in the center of the image. Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Pontoppidan
Since of its wing-like shadow function, the young star HBC 672 is understood by its nickname of Bat Shadow. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has now observed a curious “flapping” movement in the shadow of the stars disc for the very first time. The star resides in an outstanding nursery called the Serpens Nebula, about 1300 light-years away.
This image reveals the Serpens Nebula as seen by the HAWK-I instrument installed on the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory. The filters used by HAWK-I to produce this image cover wavelengths comparable to the filters used by Hubble. Credit: ESO
The Hubble Space Telescope recorded a striking observation of the fledgling stars hidden, planet-forming disc in 2018. This disc casts a big shadow throughout a more distant cloud in a star-forming region– like a fly wandering into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall.

When they integrated the old and brand-new images, the shadow appeared to have actually moved.

This “flapping” finding was likewise a surprise. Pontoppidan and his team observed the shadow in several filters over a duration of 13 months. The shadow appeared to have moved when they combined the old and new images.
The shadow is so big– about 200 times the diameter of our Solar System– that light does not travel immediately across it. In fact, it takes about 45 days for the light to take a trip from the star out to the very best defined edge of the shadow.

This may have been caused by a planet pulling on the disc and warping it. “You have a star that is surrounded by a disc, and the disc is not like Saturns rings– its not flat. If it tries to go along the aircraft of the disc, it doesnt get out, and it casts a shadow,” described lead author Klaus Pontoppidan, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, USA, whose team have actually released these outcomes.

Pontoppidan and his team determine that a world warping the disc would orbit its star in no less than 180 days. They approximate that it would be about the very same distance from its star as Earth is from the Sun. Pontoppidans group likewise recommend the disc should be flared, with an angle that increases with distance– like a trumpet. This shape of its 2 peaks and 2 dips would explain the “flapping” of the shadow. The team also speculates that a planet is embedded in the disc, inclined to the discs aircraft. A less most likely description is a lower-mass excellent companion orbiting HBC 672 outside the airplane of the disc if its not a world. Pontoppidan and his group doubt this is the case, based upon the thickness of the disc. There is also no current proof for a binary buddy.

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