Astronomers have discovered that stellar system IRAS 16293-2422 is not composed of two components, as previously thought, but three. It turned out that one of the objects of the protostar And is a germ of stars, which orbit around each other with a period of about 400 years. The system is described in an article accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal, one of the youngest double protostars known to astronomers today.
IRAS 16293-2422, located at a distance of 460 light years from Earth. Immersed in a giant molecular cloud ρ Ophiuchus, which is considered to be one of the closest and brightest areas of star formation, visible in the sky. IRAS 16293-2422 was opened at the end of the last century, and since then extensively studied by astronomers, including due to the presence of traces of complex organic molecules, the basic “building blocks” of protein life.
Until now it was thought that the system consists of two components — A and B. protostars In the past, astronomers recorded the signals, which indicate that component A can contain two sources, but a large amount of gas around does not allow scientists to see them in detail.
A group of researchers under the guidance of Maria Jose Moreira (Maria Jose Maureira) from Institute for extraterrestrial physics, max Planck Society examined the IRAS 16293-2422А using a set of radio telescopes ALMA. During observations, astronomers have obtained images of two individual sources located at a distance of 80 astronomical units apart (one astronomical unit equals the average distance from the Earth to the Sun). The first of these, dubbed A1, is an embryo of a star with a mass smaller than the mass of our Sun, which is surrounded by a small dust disk, whose size is comparable to the size of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter (the major axis is 4 astronomical units). The second source A2, slightly larger, its mass is 1.4 solar but size of disk around it a little more than the orbit of Saturn (the major axis — 12 astronomical units).