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HR 4796

HR 4796 or HD 109573 is a young double of a white main sequence star A and a smaller companion B. Orbiting the A-star is a dust disk with a diameter of 200 AU. This is in the process of forming planets. HR 4796 A often is mentioned as a standard example of planet forming systems.
In December 2007 in this dust disk for the first time in alien systems complex organic molecules have been discovered. These are Tholins, which on Earth doesn't appear naturally, because oxygen destroys them. We know Tholins from our outer solar system, notably from the moons Titan and Triton.

Constellation: Centaurus
Age: 8 million years
Distance: 220 light-years
Space between HR 4796 A and B: 500 AU

HR 4796 A

Spectral class: A0
Visual magnitude: 5.8
Luminosity: 20 * Sun
Mass: 2 * Sun
 

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01/04/2008

    HR 4796 A
The dust disk around the (masked) star.
Photo: John Debes, Carnegie Institution for Science

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