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Astronomers have seen a moon forming around a proto-jupiter

Exomoons Exaterretrial Life Image 6103 exomoon 1
The artistic impression of an exomoon orbiting a giant planet. Sci-News.com

Astronomers have discovered a young planet with a disk of gas and dust around it similar to the one from which the moons of Jupiter were born. The planet PDS 70 b is a gas giant several times the size of Jupiter, which is in the process of forming and is located approximately 370 light years away in orbit around the dwarf star PDS 70.

"Planets are formed from gas and dust discs around newly formed stars, and if a planet is large enough, it can form its own disk by gathering material in its orbit around the star," said astronomer Andrea Isella. , main author of the article. Said in a statement. "Jupiter and its moons are a small planetary system within our solar system, for example, and it is believed that Jupiter's moons were formed from a circumplanetary disk when Jupiter was very young."

But these circumplanetarios disks do not last long. It is believed that they disappear in 10 million years, and that means that there has not been a disc of this type within our Solar System for 4 billion years. To study the disks, astronomers had to hunt much further, looking for young stars with planets forming around them. Only a few planets have been found inside the discs.

The discovery was made using the Atacama millimeter / submillimeter array (ALMA) in Chile, a large variety of 66 radio telescopes that work together to detect electromagnetic radiation at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths.

Formation of the circumplanetary lunar disk discovered around the planet 777x518 1
A color image of the millimeter wave radio signals from the ALMA observatory in Chile shows a gas and dust disk (to the right of the center) around the exoplanet PDS 70 c, the first observation of the type of circumplanetary disk that is created. The moons of Jupiter have been born more than 4 billion years ago. A. Isella, ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO)

The data collected by ALMA supported the previous findings using the Multiple Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) and the very large Telescope, which observed the wavelengths of visible light that are emitted when hydrogen ionizes when it falls on a star or planet. . Between these two data sources, Isella is confident that the planet PDS 70b is there.

By observing planets with circumplanetary disks, we could learn more about how planets and moons are formed: "There is a lot we do not understand about how planets are formed," said Isella. "And now we finally have the instruments to make direct observations and begin to answer questions about how our solar system was formed and how other planets could be formed."

The findings are published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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