IN Hubble Space Telescope looked into space and noticed its youngest exoplanet, a giant world 379 light years from Earth that is still growing.
The planets form in the form of dust and gas, whirl in a circumstellar disk that surrounds their star, collide and condense, slowly turning into a “ball”. Far away in the constellation Centaurus, Hubble noticed a planet still coming together. Young gas giant exoplanetHubble scientists have stated that it is “only” 5 million years old. While the planet is still gaining mass, pulling it out of the young star it revolves around, it is already huge – about the size of Jupiter.
In the new study, scientists took advantage of this unique opportunity to study the planet in its early years, such as the PDS 70b, with the Hubble Telescope. …
“This system is so exciting because we can observe the formation of the planet,” – co-author Yifan Zhou, also from the University of Texas at Austin, said in a statement… “This is the youngest real planet that Hubble has ever received directly.”
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Researchers were able to harness Hubble’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, which allows them to detect and measure the emission of hot gas that strikes forming planets, and the researchers directly measured the rate of mass growth of PDS 70b.
“Hubble’s observations allowed us to estimate how quickly the planet is gaining mass,” Zhou said. This is the first time that researchers have been able to measure the rate of mass growth of a planet.
They were also able to directly photograph the planet and found that it appeared to be nearing the end of its formation process.
In addition, the team saw a number of “hot spots” glowing in ultraviolet light, which Hubble is determined to detect. The researchers believe these hotspots are caused by hot material that travels down to the planet’s surface from magnetic field lines that extend from the planet’s atmosphere to its star’s circumstellar disk.
“If this material follows the columns from the disk to the planet, it will cause local hotspots,” Zhou said. “These hotspots can be at least 10 times hotter than the planet’s temperature.”
Hubble has discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets so far, of which about 15 have been obtained directly, according to the statement. In addition, most of these 15 exoplanets looked like dots in photographs, as they are very distant and small.
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“We just don’t know very much about how giant planets grow,” study author Brendan Bowler of the University of Texas at Austin said in the same statement. “This planetary system gives us the first opportunity to witness the fall of material on the planet. Our results open up a new area for this study. “
The researchers admitted in a statement that these observations of PDS 70b do not provide a complete picture of the exoplanet. Additional data is needed to confirm the rate of mass growth and further study of the planet. A closer look at PDS 70b could help shed light on how similar gas giant planets form.
In studying the PDS 70b, the researchers used a new technique that, in their opinion, “paves the way for further exploration of exoplanets, especially during the years of the planet’s formation,” the statement said. In this technique, Zhou removed glare from a star in the PDS 70b system.
Glare can be a problem for scientists studying distant objects like this exoplanet, and researchers often have trouble studying exoplanets that are close to their stars. Thus, by removing the glare, the team was able to get a better view of the planet and paved the way for future explorers to study the planets that are closer to their host stars.
“Thirty-one years after launch, we are still looking for new ways to use the Hubble,” Bowler added. “With future observations, we could potentially detect when most of the gas and dust is falling on their planets, and if this is happening at a constant rate.”
Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@ or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.