Friday, March 8, 2013

Astronomers, first time directly observed a planet

An international Astronomers team lead by Sascha Quanz from ETH Zurich in Switzerland examined the gas and dust disk around the young star HD 100546, which is located at a distance of only 335 light years in relative closeness to our solar system. The researchers were surprised when they found evidence of a planet that - surrounded in the disk of theme around the young star - is still in the development process. This possible planet would be a gas giant similar to Jupiter in our solar system.

"Planet formation has been a field of research that has been worked into the main means of computer simulations," says Sascha Quanz. "If our finding is a planet in the incipient stage really, then put the science for the first time in the position, formation and interaction of a planet with his birth environment at a very early stage to examine empirically."

The system HD 100546 is well studied because they have long another giant planet with six times the distance of Earth to the Sun around the star suspects. The newly discovered planet is located in the outer regions of the system, again roughly ten times farther away from the central star. [1]

The possible new planet in the HD 100546 system was discovered as a weak application of novel analytical spot - with the adaptive optics NACO on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The observations were performed with the NACO coronagraph operating in the near infrared spectral range and can hide the blindingly bright light from the star, which would otherwise outshine at the position of the protoplanet candidate still everything [2].

According to previously established conceptual models grow giant planet by capturing a portion of the gas and dust, which remains in the formation of the central star [3]. 

In the new recording of the disc around HD 100546, astronomers have found evidence for this hypothesis. Close to the protoplanet have been found in the dust disk structures could result from interactions between the planet and the disk. It also seems the protoplanet to heat its surroundings through its development process.

Adam Amara, another member of the team, with great enthusiasm in view of the discovery: "The study of exoplanets is a very exciting part of the field of modern astronomy, and direct images of exoplanets is a completely new field, the most of recent advances in instrumentation and data analysis benefits. For our study, we have used analytical methods that were originally developed for cosmology. Fruitful exchange between various astronomical events may thus lead to remarkable progress. "

Although the continuation of the protoplanet is the most likely explanation for the data, further studies will be necessary to confirm the discovery dispute, and to rule out other circumstances. The observed brightness signal could as an alternative come from a planet even from a background object of the HD 100546 system, although this is highly unlikely. Likewise, it could be held by a protoplanet to already fully formed planets to be turned out from an initial orbit that has been closer to the central star. If, however, confirm that it is in the newly discovered object is a planet of itself - embedded in the disk of matter around the young star - is still in the development process, then it a unique laboratory for the study of the configuration of a planetary system would be found.

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