Nature 437, 112-115 (1 September 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature04012; Received 21 May 2005; Accepted 29 June 2005

A circumstellar disk associated with a massive protostellar object

Zhibo Jiang1, Motohide Tamura2, Misato Fukagawa2, Jim Hough3, Phil Lucas3, Hiroshi Suto2, Miki Ishii2 & Ji Yang1

  1. Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academic of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
  2. National Astronomical Observatories of Japan, Osawa 2-21-1, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan
  3. Department of Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK

Correspondence to: Zhibo Jiang1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to Z.J. (Email: zbjiang@pmo.ac.cn).

The formation process for stars with masses several times that of the Sun is still unclear. The two main theories are mergers of several low-mass young stellar objects1, which requires a high stellar density, or mass accretion from circumstellar disks in the same way as low-mass stars are formed2, accompanied by outflows during the process of gravitational infall. Although a number of disks have been discovered around low- and intermediate-mass young stellar objects3, 4, the presence of disks around massive young stellar objects is still uncertain and the mass of the disk system detected around one such object5, M17, is disputed6. Here we report near-infrared imaging polarimetry that reveals an outflow/disk system around the Becklin–Neugebauer protostellar object, which has a mass of at least seven solar masses (M circle dot). This strongly supports the theory that stars with masses of at least 7M circle dot form in the same way as lower mass stars.


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