Newborn planet in a gas-dust disk

Astronomers have seen an exoplanet that is in the formation stage, although it is still in the protoplanetary disk. There is a large amount of dust in the Lagrange points near it.

A planet in a protoplanetary disk. Source:

How to find a planet in a gas-dust disk

Planets are formed from gas-dust disks around young stars. Now few people doubt this. Astronomers have seen young planetary systems, and have seen the disks themselves. But the planets inside the most protoplanetary clouds have not yet been reliably identified.

Astronomers have repeatedly seen seals moving in orbit around the star inside the disks. And usually all the past news concerning the discovery of newborn planets actually meant the discovery of such clumps.

The only problem is that these formations really may not be solid bodies at all, but, for example, turbulence. But the Centers of Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian Universities have proposed a way to accurately identify the newborn planet.

Newborn planet

Scientists have studied the star LkCa 15, which is located 518 light-years away in the constellation Taurus. Earlier, an array of ALMA radio telescopes confirmed the presence of a gas-dust disk. Scientists studied the data obtained by this tool in depth and noticed two small formations.

They represented a small thickening in front and a long “tail” behind it. Both of them were in the same orbit with a radius of 42 AU and the angle between them was 120 degrees. 

If there was a planet in this orbit around LkCa 15, then its Lagrange points L4 and L5 should be located at these points. In them, the gravitational forces of the object itself and the star balance each other and therefore solid bodies can accumulate here.

The researchers tested mathematical models and they confirmed that this is what the dust that accumulates at Lagrange points should look like. The newborn planet itself, based on them, is a large “neptune” at the age of one to three million years.

This method is valuable because nothing but a planet simply cannot form such a combination of seals. And it is simply impossible to make a mistake with the identification of the planet here. Therefore, scientists suggest looking for similar patterns in other protoplanetary disks.

According to

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