Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unprecedented Views of the Birth of Planets

13.12.2018

Astronomers discover unknown structures in belts of dust and gas around young stars

Hitherto unknown structures in belts of dust and gas around young stars are providing new insights into the birth of planets along with compelling fodder for research. They were discovered by an international team of astronomers that studied 20 of these so-called protoplanetary discs in a months-long observing campaign.


Compilation of all 20 protoplanetary discs observed using ALMA in the DSHARP campaign. The colours are not true-to-life and were selected to show greater detail. They show a number of structures including rings, gaps, and spiral-shaped patterns at a wide range of distances from their host stars, from a few astronomical units (AUs) to up to 100 AU, which is more than three times the distance of Neptune from our Sun. These structures consist of dust particles that glow in millimetre-wavelength light. It is assumed that they are signatures of planet formation.

Source: ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO), S. Andrews et al.; NRAO / AUI / NSF, S. Dagnello

Heidelberg researchers made substantial contributions to the effort. The observations were carried out using a group of telescopes known as the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA). “Our observations indicate that planets can form much faster than previously assumed,” states Prof. Dr Cornelis Dullemond of the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH), one of the campaign leaders.

Until now, the process of planetary formation and its associated physical mechanisms is still poorly understood. The leading models for planet formation hold that planets are born over millions of years by the gradual accumulation of dust and gas inside a protoplanetary disk, beginning with grains of dust that coalesce to form larger and larger rocks.

In the current Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution (DSHARP) campaign, the astronomers studied dust particles that naturally glow in millimetre-wavelength light. ALMA and its extremely sharp images helped to map the density distribution of the small, solid particles around young stars.

According to the researchers, the most compelling interpretation of these observations is that large planets like Neptune or Saturn form much faster than current theory would allow. Such planets also tend to form in the outer reaches of their solar systems at tremendous distances from their host stars.

“We are seeing distinct details around a wide assortment of young stars of various masses, including prominent rings and gaps at a wide range of distances from their host stars. These appear to be the hallmarks of recently born planets,” explains Prof. Dullemond.

The latest observations may explain how rocky Earth-like planets are able to form and grow. For decades, astronomers have puzzled over a major hurdle in planet-formation theory. “When dusty bodies reach the size of pebbles, the dynamics of a smooth protoplanetary disk would induce them to fall in on their host star, never acquiring the mass necessary to form planets”, explains Cornelis Dullemond.

Yet the ALMA images show that these “pebbles” are trapped in rings. “Each of these rings contains many tens of Earth-masses worth of this dusty material. They are the ideal sites for new planets to be formed,” continues the Heidelberg astronomer. “The dense dusty rings provide a safe haven for rocky worlds to fully mature.”

Spearheading the DSHARP campaign along with Prof. Dullemond were Dr Sean Andrews, astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (USA), Prof. Dr Andrea Isella of Rice University (USA) and Prof. Dr Laura Pérez of the University of Chile. The results of their research were published in a series of papers and summarised in a special issue of “Astrophysical Journal Letters”.

Contact:
Communications and Marketing
Press Office
Phone +49 6221 54-2311
presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Dr Guido Thimm
Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University (ZAH)
Phone +49 6221 54-1805
thimm@ari.uni-heidelberg.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.ita.uni-heidelberg.de/~dullemond/index.shtml?lang=en

Marietta Fuhrmann-Koch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-heidelberg.de

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Fusion by strong lasers
06.12.2019 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

nachricht NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission explains Bennu's mysterious particle events
06.12.2019 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

Im Focus: The coldest reaction

With ultracold chemistry, researchers get a first look at exactly what happens during a chemical reaction

The coldest chemical reaction in the known universe took place in what appears to be a chaotic mess of lasers. The appearance deceives: Deep within that...

Im Focus: How do scars form? Fascia function as a repository of mobile scar tissue

Abnormal scarring is a serious threat resulting in non-healing chronic wounds or fibrosis. Scars form when fibroblasts, a type of cell of connective tissue, reach wounded skin and deposit plugs of extracellular matrix. Until today, the question about the exact anatomical origin of these fibroblasts has not been answered. In order to find potential ways of influencing the scarring process, the team of Dr. Yuval Rinkevich, Group Leader for Regenerative Biology at the Institute of Lung Biology and Disease at Helmholtz Zentrum München, aimed to finally find an answer. As it was already known that all scars derive from a fibroblast lineage expressing the Engrailed-1 gene - a lineage not only present in skin, but also in fascia - the researchers intentionally tried to understand whether or not fascia might be the origin of fibroblasts.

Fibroblasts kit - ready to heal wounds

Im Focus: McMaster researcher warns plastic pollution in Great Lakes growing concern to ecosystem

Research from a leading international expert on the health of the Great Lakes suggests that the growing intensity and scale of pollution from plastics poses serious risks to human health and will continue to have profound consequences on the ecosystem.

In an article published this month in the Journal of Waste Resources and Recycling, Gail Krantzberg, a professor in the Booth School of Engineering Practice...

Im Focus: Machine learning microscope adapts lighting to improve diagnosis

Prototype microscope teaches itself the best illumination settings for diagnosing malaria

Engineers at Duke University have developed a microscope that adapts its lighting angles, colors and patterns while teaching itself the optimal...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the mystery of carbon on ocean floor

06.12.2019 | Earth Sciences

Chip-based optical sensor detects cancer biomarker in urine

06.12.2019 | Life Sciences

A platform for stable quantum computing, a playground for exotic physics

06.12.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>