Observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope show that gas giants either form within the first 10 million years of a sun-like star's life, or not at all. The study offers new evidence that gas-giant planets must form early in a star's history. The lifespan of sun-like stars is about 10 billion years.
Ilaria Pascucci of the University of Arizona Steward Observatory in Tucson led a team of astronomers who conducted the most comprehensive search for gas around 15 different sun-like stars, most with ages ranging from 3 million to 30 million years.
The scientists used Spitzer's heat-seeking infrared eyes to search for warm gas in the inner portions of star systems, an area comparable to the zone between Earth and Jupiter in our own solar system.
In addition, Pascucci, team member Michael Meyer of the UA Steward Observatory and their colleagues probed for cold gas in the outer regions of these star systems with the Arizona Radio Observatory's 10-meter Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) on Mount Graham, Ariz. The outer zones of these star systems are analogous to the region around Saturn's orbit and beyond in our own solar system.
All of the stars in the study including those as young as a few million years have less than 10 percent of Jupiter's mass in gas swirling around them, Pascucci said.
"This indicates that gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn have already formed in these young solar system analogs, or they never will," Meyer said.
Astronomers suspect that gas around a star may also be important for sending terrestrial, or rocky, planets like Earth into relatively circular orbits as they form. If Earth had a highly elliptical orbit rather than relatively circular one, its temperature swings would be so extreme that humans and other complex organisms might not have evolved.
Many of the sun-like star systems in the study don't currently contain enough gas to send developing rocky planets into circular orbit, Pascucci said. One possibility is that terrestrial planets around these stars have highly elliptical orbits that hinder the development of complex life. Another possibility is that some mechanism other than gas moves the terrestrial planets into circular orbits once they are fully formed. "Our observations tested only the effect of gas," Pascucci said.
Pascucci¹s paper was published in the Astrophysical Journal in November 2006. The astronomers are presenting a poster of their findings today at the 209th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Wash. The observations were part of the Spitzer Legacy Science Program ³Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems² (FEPS). Meyer, a co-author of the paper, is the principal investigator of the FEPS program.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech. JPL is a division of Caltech. Spitzer's infrared spectrograph was built by Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., its development was led by Jim Houck.
The Arizona Radio Observatory offices are centrally located in the Steward Observatory building on The University of Arizona campus in Tucson.
This story is also online at JPL Spitzer Web page. For graphics and more information about Spitzer, visit http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/spitzer. For more information about the Arizona Radio Observatory, visit http://aro.as.arizona.edu/. For more information about the FEPS science team, see http://feps.as.arizona.edu.
Lori Stiles | University of Arizona
First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'
26.05.2017 | University of Leicester
Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy