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Podcaster: Richard Drumm

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Title: UNAWE Space Scoop – The Curious Case of the Missing Planets Around Gas and Dust Rings

Organization: 365 Days Of Astronomy

Link : http://365daysofastronomy.org/ ; https://spacescoop.org/en/scoops/2125/this-one-winged-cosmic-butterfly-holds-a-baby-star/

Description: Space scoop, news for children. 

Most if not all newly formed stars have protoplanetary disks of gas & dust circling around them. If you go to Wikipedia’s page on protoplanetary disks:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protoplanetary_disk

… you’ll see the famous 2014 image of HL Tauri.

I remember the day it was made public. I said to myself “There it is! Planets have to be forming in the gaps.” There are at least 7 gaps there, so it’s going to be a nice solar system eventually.

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Transcript:

This is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.

Today’s story is…

The Curious Case of the Missing Planets Around Gas and Dust Rings

Most if not all newly formed stars have protoplanetary disks of gas & dust circling around them.

If you go to Wikipedia’s page on protoplanetary disks you’ll see the famous 2014 image of HL Tauri.

I remember the day it was made public. I said to myself “There it is! Planets have to be forming in the gaps.” 

There are at least 7 gaps there, so it’s going to be a nice solar system eventually.

One of the reasons for rings and gaps in disks of gas and dust around young stars is that the system can be forming planets. 

If this makes sense, then why is it rare to find planets associated with these rings? 

Now, it could just be that the planets are small and very hard to photograph.

But astronomers just found, in a computer simulation, that after creating a ring, a planet can move away and leave it behind. 

In our own solar system Neptune is thought to have migrated outward, switching places with Uranus. 

It then captured Pluto into a resonant 3:2 orbit.

So planetary migration is a thing that apparently happens.

Those new supercomputer simulations showed that a planet in transit can create lots of the patterns we see in the disks of gas and dust around young stars. 

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, observed different patterns of these rings and gaps around at least 20 such young star systems. 

Astronomers think that the effects of gravity due to planets forming in these disks could be one way to explain these structures.

But they are yet to find enough evidence to confirm this. 

A team using the supercomputer ATERUI II at the NAOJ, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, simulated a planet migrating inward toward the star, moving away from where it first formed. 

It left a ring behind it, and something curious happened. 

At first, the ring seemed intact as the planet moved inwards. 

But then it began to deform until a second ring started forming where the planet had moved to. 

And then the first ring disappeared, with only the second ring remaining. 

This helps explain why it’s so hard to find planets near the outer rings. 

The planets that formed there may have migrated inwards and be much harder to detect, being closer to the parent star. 

Astronomers hope further observations with the next generation of super telescopes will be able to detect the planets that are so close in.

Doing this will help them see if these computer simulations really match reality.

Hey, here’s a cool fact:

The first image of a planet forming in the protoplanetary disk is from 2018, when astronomers were using the VLT, the Very Large Telescope. 

The VLT, from the European Southern Observatory or ESO, saw an infant exoplanet, PDS 70b, surrounded by a dense disk of gas and dust. 

This infant is approximately 7 times the mass of Jupiter.

That’s one BIG baby!

Thank you for listening to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast!

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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