Newborn Gas Giants Observed Orbiting Faraway Star

PDS 70, a young star in faraway space, has been observed hosting two newly formed planets. They are classified as gas giants as evidenced by their continued growth, being received as very unexpected to scientists tasked with the star’s imaging.

The star in question is 370 light-years away from Earth, being designated as a K7 pre-main sequence star. A designation that means it is somewhat smaller than the star in our solar system and is quite young as stars go, coming in at 5.4 million years old.

While observing PDS 70, using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, astronomers presumed they would observe just one planet designated PDS 70b.

This planet is circa 21 astronomical units or AU ( distance from Earth to the Sun ) and is larger between 4 to 17 times larger than Jupiter.

PDS 70c was not expected to come up in the observations of the system. It is more distant from PDS 70 AT 34.5 AU, is less sizeable than its twin and is between 1 to ten time larger than Jupiter.

What can be learned from this?

The exoplanets are not far from reaching a 2:1 resonance, which means that one orbits its star twice as fast as the other.

The disk of dust and gas that surrounds the star is being influenced by the planets as they pass through it, they absorb the materials and form a gap.

Dr. Julien Girard, member of the Space Telescope Science Institute had this to say:

“This is the first unambiguous detection of a two-planet system carving a disk gap,”

This discovery and subsequent study have the potential to give us insight into the evolution of planets and stars through time.

Saturn and Jupiter, as well as similar ones such as the PDS 70 planets are believed to be “failed stars”.

This is due to their formation as clumps of hydrogen gas. However, the difference being that they do not achieve the requirements to form fusion like a star.

The study into PDS 70 reveals the process in which a developing planet consumes dust and gas from the disk of their host star in order to fully form.

A study which can be found in the Nature Astronomy journal.

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About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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