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3Hubble finds a new Jupiter-like planet forming in an unusual way: NASA

  • Published
    8th Apr, 2022
Context

The Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a Jupiter-like protoplanet.

About

About the finding:

  • NASA's Hubble space telescope has produced a direct photograph of a Jupiter-like protoplanet embedded in a protoplanetary dusty disk around 2 million years old.
  • It is forming through what researchers describe as an "intense and violent process."
  • This discovery supports a long-debated theory for how planets like Jupiter form, called "disk instability."
  • A protoplanetary or circumstellar disk is a disk of gas and dust orbiting a newly formed star that is believed to be forming planets.
  • According to disk instability theory, matter in this disk slowly moves inward while dust particles grow into centimeter-sized pebbles.
    • This is seen as the first step in the formation of kilometer-wide planetesimals, which eventually coalesce into planets.

About the newly forming Planet:

  • The protoplanet, which is encased in the womb of a protoplanetary disc rich in dust and gas, is already nine times more massive than Jupiter.
  • Scientists established the presence of the cosmic entity as a planet when the massive disc of dust and gas moving around the star AB Aurigae was discovered turned approximately face-on to the Earth's view.
  • NASA stated that the new world, which is under construction, is embedded in a protoplanetary disk of dust and gas with distinct spiral structure swirling around surrounding a young star.
  • The star is estimated to be around two million years old, which is the age of our solar system when planet formation was underway.
    • Important to note that the solar system's age is currently 4.6 billion years
  • It orbits its parent star at a distance of 8.6 billion miles, more than twice the distance between our Sun and Pluto.
  • This has led researchers to conclude that the disc’s instability allowed this planet to form at such a great distance from its parent star.
    • The observations also stand in stark contrast to the expectation of planet formation by the widely accepted core accretion model.
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