Scientists Discovered a New Moon Shaped Ring Around Jupiter

Until long before, Astronomers considered Jupiter as a planet with a loop of tremendous dust revolving around it. However, that circular loop of dust later diminished into the four moons of Jupiter which are also called Galilean Moons.

However, astronomers believe that such moon-forming discs should be found around other planets in the alien star systems. Recently, the astronomers have discovered one such alien star and captured its images.

Moon-forming Planet discovered for the first time

The astronomers called the newly discovered planet as PDS 70 c. This gas giant is of similar size as that of Jupiter. It is revolving around a young, low-mass star located at an estimated distance of around 370 light years from the Earth.

Moon Forming Ring Around Distant Exoplanet
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Image: Isella et al., ApJL, 2019

The astronomers used Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) to detect the radio waves emitted by the dust particles encircling the entire system. It’s orbiting the star at an approximate distance of 5.31 billion kilometers.

With the help of these observations, scientists were also able to estimate the concentration of dust around the planet.

The astronomers believe this is another circumplanetary disc. Just as the protoplanetary discs around young stars eventually merge into planets, it seems like that this disc will eventually clump together into moons.

One of the astronomers from Rice University, Andrea Isella, stated that it was for the first time, they were able to easily see the telltale signs of a circumplanetary disc. This discovery will support many of the existing theories related to the formation of planets.

Planets with Rings
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Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) A. Isella; ESO

They compared their observations with the high-resolution optical and infrared images. They concluded that an enigmatic concentration of tiny dust particles is actually a planet-girding disk of dust. They had observed this feature for the first time ever.

The dust rings around such planets are very different from the rings of Saturn, which are estimated to be about 100 million years old only. While the Solar System has an age of 4.5 billion years. The rings of Saturn planet are made up of ice, dust, and rocks. They are thought to be the debris from asteroids and comets. It’s also possible that broken parts of moons also contributed to the ring formation around the planet.

The ring around PDS 70 c is at a much earlier age. Its star is just 10 million years old while the planet barely formed in this duration.

End-note:

The scientists think that after the formation of the cores, the process of accretion is very similar among stars and planets. Similarly, the formation of the material swirling around them in a disc and falling onto the object and increasing the mass of the planet is also similar. In case of a star, the material that’s left over during this process ends up forming planets.

References:

  • The Astrophysical Journal Letters
    https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/ab2a12
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    https://public.nrao.edu/news/2019-alma-circumplanetary/
  • Origin of Europa and the Galilean Satellites
    https://arxiv.org/abs/0812.4995
  • Saturn – Solar System Exploration by NASA
    https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/saturn/in-depth/

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