A newborn star typically goes through four stages of adolescence. It begins life as a protostar, accreting material and developing a proto-planetary disc. Slowly, stellar winds and radiation blow away the surrounding shell of gas and dust. Next, when the surrounding envelope has cleared, is called the T-Tauri phase. Finally, accretion stops and the source’s radiation comes from the star’s photosphere.
Astronomers studying the birth of planetary systems in the young (about 2-3 million years old) star forming region IC348 in Perseus as seen by the infrared cameras onboard the Spitzer Space Telescope have found thirteen stars in this complex with detectable discs, none of which is as massive as our early solar system’s disc.
An international team of astronomers have successfully peered through the ‘amniotic sac’ of an embryonic star to observe the innermost region of a burgeoning solar system for the first time. The magnitude +6.8 star, which is called HD 100546 or KR Muscae, lies 325 light-years away in the far southern constellation Musca.