MKT Library

Saturday is Sexy… Sunday is Movies Night

Astronomers Spot Planet Forming

September 5, 2014 | by Justine Alford

photo credit: P. Marenfeld & NOAO/AURA/NSF. Artist’s impression of HD100546 and its surrounding disk.

In February of last year, astronomers studying a young star—HD 100546—located just 355 light-years from Earth announced they had captured an image that likely represented a planet undergoing formation. If this turned out to be the case, it would mark the first direct observation of planetary formation. Now, thanks to telescopes at the ESO and the Gemini Observatory, scientists have gathered new evidence that suggests they were correct. Furthermore, they’ve found a second candidate planet orbiting the star. The work has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Our current theories of how planets form are well-developed, but they are based oncomputer simulations rather than direct observations. It is thought that planets and stars are born when a cloud of dust and gas collapses under its own gravity. As the cloud gets compressed, a large proportion of it begins to rotate. This eventually flattens into a disk that gradually gets thinner as it spins. This “circumstellar” or “protoplanetary” disk is where new planets are born.

HD 100546, a star 2.5 times larger and 30 times brighter than the Sun, is surrounded by one of these circumstellar disks. Back in 2003, astronomers spotted a blob in this disk which they believed was a Jupiter-like planet in the very early stages of formation. Now, astronomers think they have spotted another gas giant around three times the size of Jupiter forming in the disk. The distance of this candidate from HD 100546 is around the same distance that Saturn is from our Sun.

The candidate was spotted using a combination of spectroscopy and astrometry (spectroastrometry) which enabled them to measure small changes in the position of carbon monoxide (CO) emission. They discovered a source of CO emission that appeared to vary in position and velocity, both of which were consistent with orbital motion around HD 100546.

The researchers suggest that this CO emission is coming from gas within a circumplanetary disk orbiting a forming gas giant. It has long been thought that these spinning disks surround giant planets as they form, but no one had ever spotted one before. It is also believed that they are the birthplaces of planetary moons.

Because two candidates have now been spotted around HD 100546, the researchers believe this points to multiple, or perhaps sequential, planet formation. The researchers plan to continue their observations using new high-contrast imagers on the ESO’s Very Large Telescope.


Source: Click here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on September 7, 2014 by in Astronomy, Sci-Media, Space News and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 301 other followers

Follow MKT Library on

A great site

Caz the Comic Strip

Cartoon strip about Caz and her family

Don't just read the news, understand it!

Coffee Conversations

Official blog of Zurairi AR: Journo, researcher, humanist, father.


Read it! 📖 Spark it! ✨


Everything on Mesopotamia, Modern Iraq, and Global Art

The Hitchhiking Postdoc

A guide to chemical biology and to the mind of a hitchhiking postdoc


Startup and Technology News

Scrub Physics

Writings on science, technology, economics, and rationality



Snapzu Science

We blog the best science & space posts as submitted and voted on by the Snapzu community! Invites available!

ScienceQ publishing Group

Blog of scienceQ publishing Group

Duke Energy Nuclear Information Center

A glimpse into the world of nuclear energy


Science - Simplified


My encounters with Cosmology

%d bloggers like this: