First detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk

First detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk

Scientists studying the young star AS 209 have detected gas in a circumplanetary disk for the first time, suggesting that the star system may be hosting a very young Jupiter-mass planet. Science images from the research show (right) drop-like light emissions coming from hollow voids in the highly structured seven-ring disk (left). Credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), J. Bae (U. Florida)

Scientists using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and partners at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have made the first detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk. In addition, the detection also suggests the presence of a very young exoplanet. Research results are published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Circumplanetary disks are an accumulation of gas, dust and debris around young planets. These disks give rise to moons and other small, rocky objects, and control the growth of young and giant planets. Studying these disks in their early stages can help shed light on the formation of our own solar system, including that of Jupiter’s Galilean moons, which scientists believe formed in Jupiter’s circumplanetary disk about 4.5 billion years ago. ‘years.

While studying AS 209, a young star located about 395 light-years from Earth in the constellation Ophiuchus, scientists observed a drop of light emitted in the middle of an empty gap in the gas surrounding the star . This led to the detection of the circumplanetary disk surrounding a potential Jupiter-mass planet.

Scientists are watching the system closely, both because of the planet’s distance from its star and the star’s age. The exoplanet is more than 200 AU, or 18.59 billion miles, away from its host star, defying currently accepted theories of planet formation. And if the estimated age of the host star of only 1.6 million years is correct, this exoplanet could be one of the youngest ever detected. More studies are needed, and scientists hope that upcoming observations with the James Webb Space Telescope will confirm the presence of the planet.

ALMA makes the first detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk

AS 209 is a young star in the constellation Ophiuchus that scientists have now determined hosts what could be one of the youngest exoplanets in history. Credits: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), A. Sierra (U. Chile)

“The best way to study planet formation is to observe planets as they are forming. We live in a very exciting time where this is happening thanks to powerful telescopes, such as ALMA and JWST,” said Jaehan Bae, professor at astronomy at the University of Florida and lead author of the paper.

Scientists have long suspected the presence of circumplanetary disks around exoplanets, but until recently were unable to prove it. In 2019, ALMA scientists made the first detection of a moon-forming circumplanetary disk while observing the young exoplanet PDS 70c, and confirmed the finding in 2021. New observations of gas in a circumplanetary disk in AS 209 may bring more light. on the development of planetary atmospheres and the processes by which the moons are formed.

Moon-forming disk discovered around distant planet

More information:
Jaehan Bae et al, Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS): A Circumplanetary Disk Candidate in Molecular Line Emission in the AS 209 Disk, The Astrophysical Journal Letters (2022). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ac7fa3

Provided by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory

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