2021-03-05

Astronomers saw a whirlwind of dust and pebbles during the formation of exoplanets

By yqqlm yqqlm

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This exoplanet under manufacture orbits the star HD 163296 in a close orbit . HD 163296 is a young star studied by astronomers, about 330 light-years from the Earth, in the constellation Sagittarius. Earlier, astronomers found evidence of the formation of three large exoplanets in wide orbits around stars. Now, they may add a fourth planet near the star.

Researchers led by Leiden Observatory researcher Jozsef Varga studied the star on four nights in March and June 2019. They focused the telescope on the inside of the dust and pebble disk orbiting the star. Astronomers observed a ring of warm, fine dust at a distance from the star comparable to Mercury’s orbit around the sun. What is striking is that part of the ring is much brighter than the other parts of the ring, that is, much hotter. This hot spot seems to be able to orbit the star within a month.

Astronomers suspect that this hot spot of warm fine dust is a vortex in the astrolabe from which a planet can be formed. They can support their doubts through simulations. In other parts of the disk, dust and pebbles gather together, and in the whirlpool, the pebbles are actually ground into fine dust. These fine dusts are visible in hot spots.

The researchers discovered it through the new MAISSE instrument. This instrument combines and analyzes light from four telescopes of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Cerro Paranal, northern Chile. This forms a combined telescope with a virtual diameter of 200 meters. The MATISSE instrument is specially manufactured for the analysis of infrared radiation. This radiation is produced when an object, such as a planet or a dust disk, emits heat. In order to prevent the instrument itself from emitting infrared radiation, the instrument was cooled.

Astronomers saw a whirlwind of dust and pebbles during the formation of exoplanets

Astronomers saw a whirlwind of dust and pebbles during the formation of exoplanets(1)