Astronomers, after years of observing a pair of Jupiter-like exoplanets nearly 400 light-years from Earth, have found an interesting thing: a lunar disk forming around a distant planet. Known as the “circumplanetary” disk, this ring of matter is said to bring together the elements that make up the moons of a planet. The particular disk observed is approximately “500 times the size of Saturn’s rings.” Discoveries reported July 22 in “ The Astrophysical Journal, ” a peer-reviewed scientific journal specializing in Astronomy and Astrophysics.
A great find …
According to astronomers, planets form in dusty disks around young stars, forming cavities as they envelop material from this “circumstellar disk” to expand. In this process, a planet can acquire its own circumplanetary disk. This also contributes to its growth by regulating the amount of material that falls on it. At the same time, gas and dust from the circumplanetary disk can accumulate into larger and larger bodies through multiple collisions. These aggregations ultimately lead to the birth of moons. But astronomers still don’t fully understand the details of these processes, and this is where recent observations matter.
“These new observations are also extremely important for testing theories of planet formation that could not be tested until now,” Jaehan Bae, one of the authors of the study published in the scientific journal, told the media. the Earth and Planets Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution for Science in the United States.
In fact, it was using ALMA, for the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array ”, a giant radio telescope installed in the Atacama desert in northern Chile, that scientists were able to detect the presence of a disk around a planet outside our system. solar. system. The disk in question, called the “circumplanetary disk,” surrounds the exoplanet “PDS 70c,” one of two giant Jupiter-like planets orbiting a star nearly 400 light-years away.
Myriam Benisty, an astronomer from the University of Grenoble, France, and the University of Chile, who led the research, explained: “Our work presents a clear detection of a disk in which satellites could form.” He added in essence that “the ALMA observations were obtained with such exquisite resolution that we were able to clearly identify that the disk is associated with the planet and we can limit its size for the first time.”