Recent papers, Episode 5

image credit: ALMA/Calcada

It's a trap!

Recently, I was involved in two related papers:

Lopsided dust rings in transition disks
T. Birnstiel, C. P. Dullemond, P. Pinilla, A&A (2013) vol. 550, L8

A Major Asymmetric Dust Trap in a Transition Disk
N. van der Marel et al. Science (2013) vol. 340, 1199-1202

In the first one, we proposed that the rings seen in transition disks can easily become asymmetric: only a small asymmetry of the gas bump is enough to trigger a strong accumulation of dust particles.

Right around the time we were finishing up this paper, we were contacted by some colleagues who had just gotten their latest data from the ALMA observatory. They wanted to investigate the gas structure of the disk, but then they found a much more interesting and surprising feature in the dust which they had not expected: instead of a symmetric dust ring, they saw an extremely asymmetric structure, just like we predicted. We joined them in interpreting the data and the paper was published in the journal Science.

You can read more about it in the press releases from NRAO or ESO, or in German from the University of Heidelberg. It was also covered in an ESOCast - the video can be found here.