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The rare molecule involved in the birth of planets



  The rare molecule involved in the birth of planets
The inner red areas represent the dust in the disk, which is believed to be formed into rings by the formation of planets. The broader blue area is the carbon monoxide (CO) gas in the disk. The inner green area shows the rarer 13C17O gas that researchers have discovered for the first time. Photo credits: ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO), Booth and Colleagues, University of Leeds

Astronomers using one of the most advanced radio telescopes have discovered a rare molecule in the dust and gas disk of a young star – and it may be an answer to one of the puzzles astronomers face.

The star, named HD 163296, is located 330 light-years from Earth and has formed in the last six million years.

It is surrounded by a disk of dust and gas, a so-called protoplanetary disc. In these disks young planets are born. With a radio telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile, the researchers were able to detect a very weak signal, the presence of a rare form of carbon monoxide, an isotophor ( 13 C 17 [19459015)anzeigt] O).

The discovery has allowed international collaboration among scientists led by the University of Leeds to measure the mass of gas in the disk more accurately than ever before. The results show that the disc is much heavier – or "massive" – ​​than previously thought.

Alice Booth, Ph.D. Researchers in Leeds, who led the study, said, "Our new observations showed that there were two to six times more mass concealed in the disk than previously observed.

" This is an important finding in terms of birth the planet's systems – if they contain more gas, they have more building material to form more massive planets.

The Study – The First Discovery of 13 C 17 O in A Protoplanetary Disk: A Robust Tracer for the Disk Gas Mass – is published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters [19459018

The scientists' conclusions are well timed To contain enough gas and dust to create the observed planets.

  The rare molecule involved in the birth of planets.
If As young planets grow in these slices, they carve out gaps, resulting in a structure of concentric rings ESO / L. Calçada

Dr. John Ilee, a researcher in Leeds, who was also involved in the study, added, "The disc-exoplanetary discrepancy raises serious questions about how and when planets are formed, but if other discs conceal similar mass levels as HD 163296, then we may have underestimated their masses. "

" We can measure disk masses by studying how much light is emitted by molecules like carbon monoxide, and if the disks are dense enough, they can block the given light by more frequent shapes mitigated by carbon monoxide – and that could lead to scientists underestimating the mass of available gas.

"This study has used a technique to observe the much rarer 13 C 17 O molecule – so we can look deep into the disk and find a previously hidden gas reservoir.

The researchers used one of the world's most advanced radio telescopes – the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA) – high in the Atacama Desert.

ALMA is able to observe invisible light to the naked eye, so that astronomers can look at the so-called "cold universe" – the parts of space not visible with optical telescopes.

Booth said, "Our work demonstrates the amazing contribution that ALMA makes to the understanding of the universe. It helps to create a more accurate picture of the physics that leads to the formation of new planets. Of course this helps us to understand how the solar system and the Earth came into existence.

The researchers are already planning the next steps in their work.

Booth added, "We hypothesize that ALMA will allow us to observe this rare form of CO in many other slices. In this way, we can more accurately measure their mass and determine if scientists have systematically underestimated how much matter they contain. "


A young star that forms like a planet


Further information:
Astrophysical Journal Letters (2019). iopscience.iop.org/article/10. … 847 / 2041-8213 / ab3645

Provided by
University of Leeds




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The rare molecule in the birth of planets (2019, September 12)
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