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51 Ophiuchi
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Ophiuchus
Right ascension 17h 31m 24.94s[1]
Declination −23° 57′ 45″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 4.81[1]
Spectral type B9

The star 51 Ophiuchi (also called 51 Oph) is a young B-type star, lying approximately 410 light-years (130 pc) away in the constellation Ophiuchus, northwest of the center of the Milky Way. It is notable for being "a rare, nearby example of a young planetary system just entering the last phase of planet formation".[2]

Dust and gas disk

51 Ophiuchi has a disk of dust and gas that appears to be a young debris disk and is likely a planetary system in the late stages of formation. This system resembles Beta Pictoris, a well known star with a large debris disk, in several ways: spectral type, the presence of an edge-on disk with both gas and dust, and the presence of variable blue-shifted absorption lines suggesting in-falling comets.[2][3]

The distance to 51 Ophiuchi is much greater than the distance to Beta Pictoris, and its debris disk is relatively compact. As a consequence, the disk around 51 Ophiuchi requires an interferometer to resolve, in contrast to that of Beta Pictoris, which has been observed using visual spectrum imaging.[4] Recent observations of 51 Ophiuchi made with the Keck Interferometer Nuller at the W. M. Keck Observatory show that the disk has two components: a central cloud of large particles (exozodiacal dust) surrounded by a much larger cloud of small silicate particles extending to about 1,000 astronomical units.[3] The inner disk has a radius approximately four times the distance between the sun and the Earth, with a density of around 100,000 times that of the dust in our solar system.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "* 51 oph—Star". SIMBAD. Retrieved 2009-09-23.  
  2. ^ a b c "Twin Keck telescopes probe dual dust disks". e! Science News. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2009.  
  3. ^ a b Stark, Christopher C.; Kuchner, Marc J.; Traub, Wesley A.; Monnier, John D.; Serabyn, Eugene; Colavita, Mark; Koresko, Chris; Mennesson, Bertrand et al. (2009), "51 Ophiuchus: A Possible Beta Pictoris Analog Measured with the Keck Interferometer Nuller", Astrophysical Journal 703 (2): 1188–1197, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/703/2/1188  
  4. ^ Smith, B. A. and Terrile, R. J. (1984). "A circumstellar disk around Beta Pictoris". Science 226: 1421–1424. doi:10.1126/science.226.4681.1421.  


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