Astronomers see a “disk that forms the moon” around a distant exoplanet for the first time

An Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array image shows a wider view of planet PDS 70c and his star. The neighbour-up view on the right highlights the disk that forms the moon around the planet.

ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO) / Benisty et al.

Here on Earth, we are very familiar with what a fully formed moon looks like like. But what are they looking at? like When I just a glow in the eye of a planet? A notable new Image shows a disk that forms the moon of material around Jupiter-like planet 400 light-years away. It is giving scientists insights into the births of moons.

The research mark what European Southern Observatory named Thursday the “first clear detection of a disk that forms the moon around an exoplanet. “Exoplanets are located planets outside of our solar system.

The circumplanetary disk surrounds the exoplanet PDS 70c and is made up of gas and dust. The material in the disc has enough mass to form three satellites the dimension of our moon. The discovery was made possible from the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array, aka ALMA, a powerful telescope in Chile.

“Our work presents a clear detection of a record in which satellites could form, “said Myriam Benisty, lead author of the new she studies published in The Letters of the Astrophysical Journal on Thursday. “Our ALMA observations were obtained with such exquisite resolution that we could clearly identify that the disc is paired with the planet and we are in able to constrain its size for the first time “, she adds.

This image of ALMA shows a moon-forming disk surrounding PDS 70c, a young Jupiter-like gas giant nearly 400 light-years away. This neighbor-up gives a better look at the planet and the surrounding disk of gas and dust.

ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO) / Benisty et al.

The findings have implications for understand the formation of the planet. Scientists think planets form in circumstellar discs of material around the stars like material collects together. Those planets may have their own circumplanetary disk and this material they can collide and gather together to create moons.

There is still a lot of mystery around the planet and the moon formation process. “In short, it is still unclear when, where and how planets and moons are formed “, said ESO E research fellow and co-author of studio Stefano Facchini.

Astronomers have discovered over 4,000 exoplanets, but PDS 70c and its companion planet PDS 70b (which does not have a moon-forming disk of own) are special in that the planets are still forming.

you can think of these exoplanets from pre-adolescents on their way towards planetary maturity. Facchini said: “This system so it offers us a unique possibility to observe and study the processes of formation of planets and satellites “.

Astronomers hope to get a better look at what’s going on on in the system, both for the planet and for the moon, with future, more powerful telescopes. Maybe someday we will locate the actual birth of an exoplanet moon.

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