Astronomers Spot First Ever Spiral Arm Star, Hints of Exoplanets
The constellation Lupus has revealed a surprise to astronomers with a star that seems to have two spiral arms reaching out from either end. While these kind of structures have been observed in galaxies, specifically pinwheel galaxies, arms have never been seen on an individual star before.
The star, called SAO 206462, is a relatively young star surrounded by a disk of gas and dust. Scientists hoped that close observation would reveal an exoplanet forming from the swirling mass, and so peered at the 400-light-year distant star with Japan’s Subaru Telescope. Instead of planets, two graceful arms similar to those found in galaxies emerged.
However, that doesn’t mean that planets aren’t hanging around in the disk — which is apparently twice as wide as the orbit of Pluto. In fact, theoretical models suggest that the spiral arms could be formed from not one planet, but two. Obviously, some further investigation of this intriguing and beautiful star will be warranted.