Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Do ’Planemos’ Have Progeny?

06.06.2006


Planetary-Mass Objects Found to be Surrounded by Discs



Two new studies, based on observations made with ESO’s telescopes, show that objects only a few times more massive than Jupiter are born with discs of dust and gas, the raw material for planet making. This suggests that miniature versions of the solar system may circle objects that are some 100 times less massive than our Sun.

These findings are to be presented Monday, 5 June at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Calgary, Canada.


Since a few years, it is known that many young brown dwarfs, ’failed stars’ that weigh less than 8 percent the mass of the Sun, are surrounded by a disc of material. This may indicate these objects form the same way as did our Sun.

The new findings reveal that the same appears to be true for their even punier cousins, sometimes called planetary mass objects or ’planemos’. These objects have masses similar to those of extra-solar planets, but they are not in orbit around stars - instead, they float freely through space.

"Our findings, combined with previous work, suggest similar infancies for our Sun and objects that are some hundred times less massive", says Valentin D. Ivanov (ESO), co-author of the first study.

"Now that we know of these planetary mass objects with their own little infant planetary systems, the definition of the word ’planet’ has blurred even more,"adds Ray Jayawardhana, from the University of Toronto (Canada) and lead author of the study. "In a way, the new discoveries are not too surprising - after all, Jupiter must have been born with its own disc, out of which its bigger moons formed."

Unlike Jupiter, however, these planemos are not circling stars. In their study, Jayawardhana and Ivanov used two of ESO’s telescopes - Antu, the 8.2-metre Unit Telescope no. 1 of the Very Large Telescope, and the 3.5-metre New Technology Telescope - to obtain optical spectra of six candidates identified recently by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. Two of the six turned out to have masses between five to 10 times that of Jupiter while two others are a tad heftier, at 10 to 15 times Jupiter’s mass. All four of these objects are ’newborns’, just a few million years old, and are located in star-forming regions about 450 light-years from Earth. The planemos show infrared emission from dusty discs that may evolve into miniature planetary systems over time.

In another study, Subhanjoy Mohanty (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, CfA), Ray Jayawardhana (Univ. of Toronto), Nuria Huelamo (ESO) and Eric Mamajek (also at CfA) used the Very Large Telescope, this time with its adaptive optics system and infrared camera NACO, to obtain images and spectra of a planetary mass companion discovered at ESO two years ago around a young brown dwarf that is itself about 25 times the mass of Jupiter. This planetary mass companion is the first-ever exoplanet to have been imaged (see ESO 12/05).

The brown dwarf, dubbed 2M1207 for short and located 170 light-years from Earth, was known to be surrounded by a disc. Now, this team has found evidence for a disc around the eight-Jupiter-mass companion as well.

"The pair probably formed together, like a petite stellar binary", explains lead author Mohanty, "instead of the companion forming in the disc around the brown dwarf, like a star-planet system."

"Moreover", Jayawardhana adds, "it is quite likely that smaller planets or asteroids could now form in the disc around each one."

Henri Boffin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2006/pr-19-06.html
http://www.eso.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>