A Small Planet Is Making Unusual Patterns in Dust


It is a well-known fact that, when stars are young, they are surrounded by a ring that is made out of dust and gas. It is known as being a protoplanetary disk. In time, the material from the disk can clump together, and it can form pretty much anything, from planets to asteroids. 

A newborn exoplanet is the reason for this

Scientists have recently found out that there is a young star, with rings that are thin and gaps in one of the parts of the protoplanetary disk. They believe that a newborn exoplanet is the reason for this situation.

About HD169142

Researchers have described how they saw some strange rings while they were taking a look at some pictures of HD169142. We are talking about a protoplanetary disk that is placed 370 light-years away. It was produced by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array. This disk is very young – about six million years old. It is two times as big as our Sun. Scientists know that it orbits by at least one huge gas giant planet. The disk has some thick bands of dust, which are separated by deep gaps. 

If we are to take a look at their analysis, researchers saw that the structures from HD169142’s outer disk are quite new to them. Also, they were probably caused by the migration of an exoplanet that was recently formed. This exoplanet is ten times as big as Earth.

Why is this experiment important?

The team behind the study explained that one small planet can interact with tiny dust particles, and can produce the rings in total isolation. Then, it can indirectly reveal its properties. This is an experiment that can open up brand new possibilities of getting to know better, very young extra-solar planets.


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