HomeScienceOuter SpaceBudding gas giant planets may be lurking in a dusty disk

Budding gas giant planets may be lurking in a dusty disk

A computer-generated image of a dark protostellar disk seen side-on at a 90-degree angle to jets (orange) emanating from the poles of a young star. Such disks are considered the precursors of planetary systems, with planets forming as the dust coalesces. RIKEN researchers may have seen embryos from gas giant planets in one protostellar disk. Credits: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Nurseries for new planets, protostellar disks are flattened webs of gas and dust that orbit newly formed stars. The Earth and the other planets in the solar system originated from such a disk.

Now Satoshi Ohashi of the RIKEN Star and Planet Formation Laboratory and his colleagues have studied a protostellar disk in one of the closest star-forming regions to Earth.

Using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and the Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, they found that the disk is 80-100 times wider than the distance from the Sun to Earth. , a span known as a astronomical unit.

The disk is unstable and collapses in a region about 20 astronomical units from its young star. The VLA had previously identified several clumps of matter in the same area, and their formation may be driven by this gravitational instability.

“These clumps could be the progenitors of gas giant planets because they are huge and dense,” says Ohashi. If this identification is correct, it would imply that planet formation may begin surprisingly early in protostellar disks.

The researchers also measured the temperature of the dust in different parts of the disk. The disk is heated by the star’s radiation, so the temperature of the dust should decrease gradually at greater distances from the star.

Dust close to the star can reach a relatively warm -193 degrees Celsius (-315.4 Fahrenheit). But on the other side of the bushes, the dust temperature dropped sharply. This suggests that the clumps block the star’s radiation, cooling dust in their shadows. In the outer parts of the disk, the dust temperature drops to about -263 degrees Celsius (-441.4 Fahrenheit) – just 10 degrees above absolute zero.

This shady, cold environment can affect the chemical composition of planets that form in the outer regions of the disk, says Ohashi.

This finding could help astrophysicists understand the origin of icy planets like Uranus and Neptune that orbit our own sun. “U.S solar system It is also suggested that it formed a shadow area in the past,” says Ohashi.

The team now hopes to observe other protostellar disks, with greater spatial resolution and sensitivity, to assess whether this shadowing effect is common.

The research has been published in The Astrophysical Journal.

More information:
Satoshi Ohashi et al., Formation of Sub-Jupiter-Mass Cold Shadow Region Dust Clumps in Gravitationally Unstable Disc Around Class 0/I Protostar in L1527 IRS, The Astrophysical Journal (2022). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac794e

Quote: Nascent gas giant planets may lurk in dusty disk (2022, Nov. 25) Retrieved Nov. 25, 2022 from

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