SEP 28, 2016 9:44 AM PDT

Astronomers May Have Spotted the Formation of a Giant Icy Planet

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

In a nearby star system dubbed TW Hydrae, astronomers are keeping their eyes on a disk formation of dust and gas particles that may be in the midst of forming some kind of icy planet. The star at the core of this system is only 10 million years old, which is very young for a star.
 

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Tsukagoshi et al.

 
Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) from Northern Chile to study the would-be world, astronomers have been able to make out that it may be an icy world similar in features to Neptune and Uranus in our own Solar System, and it’s about as far away from its host star as Uranus is from our Sun.
 
Their findings are available in a paper online and have been accepted for review by The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
 
The star system is only about 176 light years away, which is about 41 times more distant than our closest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri. It’s still far enough away that it would take too long to ever get to it in person, but on an astronomical scale, it’s very close.
 
Dust particles in the disk are micrometer-sized, and can’t even be seen in a telescope, but their presence is seen by what looks like a cloud surrounding a mass that’s clumping together in the middle of space.
 
As shown in the following image taken with ALMA, there are gaps in between the formation layers in the disk. The innermost gap is believed to harbor the formation of a planet, which could be up to 25 times more massive than the Earth.
 
"Combined with the orbit size and the brightness of TW Hydrae, the planet would be an icy giant planet like Neptune," said lead astronomer Takashi Tsukagoshi from Ibaraki University, Japan.
 
Outer layers have varying sizes of particles that gravity is slowly clumping together to form the planet, which has a composition bright enough to be a cold, gassy planet. Friction and gravity could be pushing the larger dust particles out into the outer gaps, while the smaller particles clump more towards the center.
 
Now understanding the general location of this possible giant icy planet formation, astronomers hope to use additional space observation instruments to take a look at the disk to figure out what it’s composed of and whether or not it has any polarization.
 
Source: ALMA via BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time
JUL 05, 2020
Astronomers Spot Exposed Planetary Core for First Time
For the first time, astronomers have spotted a planet with an exposed core. Known as TOI-849b, the finding could help us ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
JUL 13, 2020
Earth's Moon Had Magma Ocean for 200 Million Years
The moon may have hosted an ocean of magma for 200 million years according to new findings- considerably longer than pre ...
AUG 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
AUG 09, 2020
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
On August 7, A SpaceX recovery vessel called GO Navigator brought the Crew Dragon capsule back to its home port.
AUG 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
AUG 16, 2020
What Will the End of the Universe Look Like?
Matt Caplan, a theoretical physicist at Illinois State University, has calculated when the last supernova will happen in ...
NOV 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
China to Obtain First Lunar Samples Since 1976
NOV 26, 2020
China to Obtain First Lunar Samples Since 1976
On November 23, 2020, China launched its unmanned Chang'e-5 spacecraft on a mission to the Moon to bring fresh lunar ...
NOV 27, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Our Chemistry Connection to Stars and the Cosmo
NOV 27, 2020
Our Chemistry Connection to Stars and the Cosmo
A common entity that connects everything from majestically looking galaxies and nebula to the enormously diversified bio ...
Loading Comments...