Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS). XIX. Spiral arms, a tail, and diffuse structures traced by CO around the GM Aur disk

Jane Huang, Edwin A. Bergin, Karin I. Öberg, Sean M. Andrews, Richard Teague, Charles J. Law, Paul Kalas, Yuri Aikawa, Jaehan Bae, Jennifer B. Bergner, Alice S. Booth, Arthur D. Bosman, Jenny K. Calahan, Gianni Cataldi, L. Ilsedore Cleeves, Ian Czekala, John D. Ilee, Romane Le Gal, Viviana V. Guzmán, Feng LongRyan A. Loomis, François Ménard, Hideko Nomura, Chunhua Qi, Kamber R. Schwarz, Takashi Tsukagoshi, Merel L. R. van't Hoff, Catherine Walsh, David J. Wilner, Yoshihide Yamato, Ke Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The concentric gaps and rings commonly observed in protoplanetary disks in millimeter continuum emission have lent the impression that planet formation generally proceeds within orderly, isolated systems. While deep observations of spatially resolved molecular emission have been comparatively limited, they are increasingly suggesting that some disks interact with their surroundings while planet formation is underway. We present an analysis of complex features identified around GM Aur in 12CO J = 2 - 1 images at a spatial resolution of ~40 au. In addition to a Keplerian disk extending to a radius of ~550 au, the CO emission traces flocculent spiral arms out to radii of ~1200 au, a tail extending ~1800 au southwest of GM Aur, and diffuse structures extending from the north side of the disk up to radii of ~1900 au. The diffuse structures coincide with a "dust ribbon" previously identified in scattered light. The large-scale asymmetric gas features present a striking contrast with the mostly axisymmetric, multi-ringed millimeter continuum tracing the pebble disk. We hypothesize that GM Aur's complex gas structures result from late infall of remnant envelope or cloud material onto the disk. The morphological similarities to the SU Aur and AB Aur systems, which are also located in the L1517 cloud, provide additional support to a scenario in which interactions with the environment are playing a role in regulating the distribution and transport of material in all three of these Class II disk systems. This paper is part of the MAPS special issue of the Astrophysical Journal Supplement.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Number of pages28
JournalAstrophysical Journal Supplement Series
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Planet formation
  • Radio interferometry
  • Astrochemistry


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