Young star systems usually have protoplanetary disks of dust and gas. Almost all young stars have them. And as you might guess this is the material from which planet are born.
But the disk that was recently discovered around a quaternary star HD 98800 is quite unique. The star system in question is about one hundred and six light years away and has been discovered by a British astronomer Grant Kennedy from the University in Warwick alongside with his team while studying so called circumbinary planets.
Circumbinary planets are special because they orbit not only one star but two at the same time. In such cases, scientists expect that the planets could have strange orbits unlike anything we know from our own solar system.
The scientists focused on the system HD 98800 where there aren’t two but four stars! This was just too much of an interesting system. And if there would be planets there they would be shined upon by not one, not two but four stars at the same time. And while this already sounds amazing we found something even better.
HD 98800 is made up from two binary stars. When the quaternary system was discovered by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) they also discovered a protoplanetary disk around one of the binary stars that isn’t located as we traditionally know.
This disk is oriented in almost a vertical way towards the two stars and that is quite unusual. This means it passes almost straight above the poles of the stars. And if one day planets form in this vertical disk the planets will be quite strange as well. Thanks to the amount of stars the seasons will change quite unpredictably and anything on the surface will have two shades.