Protoplanetary disks are ubiquitously observed around young solar-mass stars and are considered to be not only natural by-products of stellar evolution but also precursors of planet formation. If a forming star has close companions, the protoplanetary disk may be seriously influenced. It is important to consider this effect because most stars form as multiples. Thus, studies of protoplanetary disks in multiple systems are essential to describe the general processes of star and planet formation.
We present the direct image of an interacting binary protoplanetary system. We obtained an infrared image of a young multiple circumstellar disk system, SR24, with the Subaru 8.2-m Telescope. Both circumprimary and circumsecondary disks are clearly resolved with a 0.1 arcsecond resolution. The binary system exhibits a bridge of infrared emission connecting the two disks and a long spiral arm extending from the circumprimary disk. A spiral arm would suggest that the SR24 system rotates counter-clockwise. The orbital period of the binary is 15,000 yr. Numerical simulations reveal that the bridge corresponds to gas flow and a shock wave caused by the collision of gas rotating around the primary and secondary stars. The simulations also show that fresh material streams along the spiral arm, confirming the theoretical proposal that gas is replenished from a circum-multiple reservoir. These results reveal the mechanism of interacting protoplanetary disks in young multiple systems. Furthermore, our observations provide the first direct image that enables a comparison with theoretical models of mass accretion in binary systems. The observations of this binary system provide a great opportunity to test and refine theoretical models of star and planet formation in binary systems.