For a comprehensive understanding of planetary formation and evolution, we need to investigate the environment in which planets form: circumstellar disks. Here we present high-contrast imaging observations of V4046 Sagittarii, a 20-Myr-old close binary known to host a circumbinary disk. We have discovered the presence of rotating shadows in the disk, caused by mutual occultations of the central binary. Shadow-like features are often observed in disks1,2, but those found thus far have not been due to eclipsing phenomena. We have used the phase difference due to light travel time to measure the flaring of the disk and the geometrical distance of the system. We calculate a distance that is in very good agreement with the value obtained from the Gaia mission's Data Release 2 (DR2), and flaring angles of α = (6.2 ± 0.6)° and α = (8.5 ± 1.0)° for the inner and outer disk rings, respectively. Our technique opens up a path to explore other binary systems, providing an independent estimate of distance and the flaring angle, a crucial parameter for disk modelling.
- Pub Date:
- November 2019
- Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics
- Authors' version of the article published in Nature Astronomy. Final version available at https://www.nature.com/natastron/