The disc surrounds a young massive star located in a stellar nursery called N180, residing in a neighbouring dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud.
At a distance of 163,000 light years from Earth, this is the most distant disc around a massive star ever to be directly detected.
Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, in which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) is a partner, researchers observed motions in gas around a young stellar object in the Large Magellanic Cloud consistent with a Keplerian accretion disc - the kind that feeds the growth of stars through infalling material.
The team's findings have been published in the journal Nature.
As matter is pulled towards a growing star, it cannot fall directly onto it; instead, it flattens into a spinning disc around the star. Closer to the centre, the disc rotates faster, and this difference in speed is the smoking gun that shows astronomers an accretion disc is present.
Lead author of the study, Dr Anna McLeod from Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, Durham University said: "When I first saw evidence for a rotating structure in the ALMA data, I could not believe that we had detected the first extragalactic accretion disc; it was a special moment.
"We know discs are vital to forming stars and planets in our galaxy, and here, for the first time, we're seeing direct evidence for this in another galaxy.
"We are in an era of rapid technological advancement when it comes to astronomical facilities.
"Being able to study how stars form at such incredible distances and in a different galaxy is very exciting."
Massive stars, like the one observed here, form much more quickly and live far shorter lives than low-mass stars like our Sun.
In our galaxy, these massive stars are notoriously challenging to observe and are often obscured from view by the dusty material from which they form at the time a disc is shaping around them.
Unlike similar circumstellar disks in the Milky Way, this system is optically visible, likely due to the lower dust and metal content of its surrounding environment. This gives astronomers a peek into the dynamics of accretion that are typically hidden behind veils of gas and dust.
Analysis of the disc suggests an inner Keplerian region transitioning to infalling material at larger distances from the central star. The star is estimated to be around 15 times the mass of our Sun.
While bearing many familiar characteristics of Milky Way discs, some intriguing differences also emerge.
The low metal content typical of the LMC seems to make the disc more stable against fragmentation.
The successful detection of this extragalactic circumstellar disc boosts prospects for finding more such systems with ALMA and the upcoming Next Generation Very Large Array (ngVLA).
Studying star and disc formation across different galactic environments will help complete our understanding of stellar origins.
|Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters
NASA shuttle astronaut, scientist Mary Cleave remembered as 'trailblazer'
U.S. and Saudi Arabia explore space for peaceful purposes
Sierra Space's Shooting Star Module Begins Rigorous Testing at NASA Facility
Russian Progress 86 spacecraft lifts off with supplies for ISS
NASA Tests In-Flight Capability of Artemis Moon Rocket Engine
NASA, small companies eye new cargo delivery, heat shield technologies
Boosting rocket reliability at the material level
Firefly Aerospace completes first Miranda Engine hot fire test
Farewell, Solar Conjunction 2023: Sols 4023-4024
Was There Life on Mars
NASA Orbiter snaps stunning views of Mars horizon
China's Mars rover detects irregular wedges beneath red planet
China's Lunar Samples on Display in Macao to Inspire Future Explorers
Wenchang Set to Become China's Premier Commercial Space Launch Hub by Next Year
China Manned Space Agency Delegation Highlights SARs' Role in Space Program
Shanghai Sets Sights on Expanding Space Industry with Ambitious 2025 Goals
Ovzon and SSC close to sealing satellite communication contract worth $10M
Embry-Riddle's Innovative Mission Control Lab prepares students for booming space sector
A major boost for space skills and research in North East England
GalaxySpace to boost mobile broadband with new-gen satellite technology
Air Force awards UTEP Grant to safeguard assets in space
China launches tech-experiment satellite
A satellite's death spiral
Beyond Gravity unveils reusable payload fairing concept
First extragalactic exoplanet disc spotted outside of the Milky Way
Discovery of planet too big for its sun throws off solar system formation models
Alien haze, cooked in a lab, clears view to distant water worlds
Webb study reveals rocky planets can form in extreme environments
Unwrapping Uranus and its icy moon secrets
Juice burns hard towards first-ever Earth-Moon flyby
Fall into an ice giant's atmosphere
Juno finds Jupiter's winds penetrate in cylindrical layers
|Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters