2018

Three baby planets detected

image credit: Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF; S. Dagnello In Rich Teagues paper on HD163296 we used the ALMA observatory to hunt for baby planets in their natal environment, the planet forming disks. We use the Doppler effect to measure the gas rotation velocity with unprecedented precision of only a few meters per second. Keep in mind that the disk is about 300 light years away and rotates at speeds of a few kilometers per second! Planets forming inside those disks perturb the gas and cause it to rotate slightly faster or slower. The detected rotation curves are a perfect match to predictions from planet-disk interaction, as coauthor Jaehan Bae carries out. This is good evidence that indeed planets of about Jupiter mass have already formed in this particular disk around the young star HD163296. This is quite surprising, as astronomers have no idea how these massive planets formed so far away from their star (they are more than 80 times farther away from their star than the earth is from the sun). Next, we will apply this method to other disks to see if all the dust rings we see are caused by planets. You can read more about this