In a discovery, an worldwide team of astronomers has used a new technique to discover three infant planets which are around the newborn star, and they are incredible in finding that they are affirming long-held assumptions for the planet formation. If there are no planets in its path, the gas should flow in a predictable way along with the rotation of the disk.
Though the dust prevailing in the star's disk was clearly captured in the previous ALMA observations, the group focused on the presence of carbon monoxide spread throughout the disk.
Teague began investigating what he could learn by how the forming planets affect the gas through which they're passing, using the principle of the Doppler effect.
ALMA has uncovered convincing evidence that three young planets are in orbit around the infant star HD 163296.
This wide-field image shows the surroundings of the young star HD 163296 in the rich constellation of Sagittarius (The Archer).
These gaps in the rings of gas and dust could be used by forming planets.
Dr Richard Teague, an astronomer at the University of MI and principal author on one of the papers, said that the rings only provided circumstantial evidence of the baby planets however. The team says that to create localized disturbances in the otherwise orderly motion of the gas, something "relatively massive" would have to be making the gravity, such as a planet. Calculations show that these planets have masses similar to Jupiter. The disturbances in the gas were indeed planet-sized.
The two teams of astronomers both used ALMA in conjunction with a new planet-hunting technique that identifies unusual patterns in the flow of gas within a protoplanetary disk.
All three exoplanets reside within the protoplanetary disk, and that's how the researchers managed to find them.
The team led by Teague found two gaps and wake patterns associated with planets about 80 and 140 astronomical units from HD 163296. These planets are the first detected using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the world's most powerful telescope for observing molecular gas and dust. Molecules of CO naturally emit a very distinctive millimeter-wavelength light that ALMA can observe. While the young star is still surrounded by a gaseous disk in which the forming planets are embedded, these methods can not be used.
The other team, led by Pinte, identified the third at about 260 AU from the star.
"The precision is mind boggling", said co-author Dr Til Birnstiel of the University Observatory of Munich.
We've been identifying fully formed exoplanets left and right over the last few decades; NASA researchers recently identified more than 100 giant planets whose moons may be capable of supporting life. Finding more baby planets will help astronomers answer the many outstanding questions about planet formation, including the process by which our own Solar System came into existence. "It is therefore crucial to study kinematics of the gas". They orbit at distances of 83 and 137 times that between the Sun and the Earth, although their host star is much brighter than our own Sun.
This is why two new studies published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters (1 and 2) are such a big deal. "A Kinematic Detection of Two Unseen Jupiter Mass Embedded Protoplanets", by R. Teague et al.