Chilean astronomers discover key process in the formation of giant planets |  Technology

Chilean astronomers discover key process in the formation of giant planets | Technology

The process of creating planetary systems like our solar system is a field with many more questions. One of these puzzles was approached by an astronomer who graduated from the University of Chile, Theresa Panek, A researcher who read Elias 2-27 in his master’s thesis, 378 million light-years from Earth – a young star whose size is close to half that of our Sun, and the dust and gas disk it will lead to the planets. One of the uniqueness of this system The constellation of Ophiuchus What triggered their analysis is that the vortex structure following its dust particles is now understood to be the result of a characteristic gravitational instability.

U.S. It was the focus of Theresa Panek’s work with astronomers and professors at the Faculty of Physical Sciences and Mathematics in de Chile. Laura Perez, A process calculated in collaboration with Alma, the European Southern Laboratory (ESO), the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, and researchers at the Universities of Milan, Georgia, Leicester, Harvard and Cambridge. The 23-year-old, a young astronomer with a doctorate from the Southern European Laboratory and the University of Leiden, began his research in 2018 with an analysis of observations collected by the Alma project led by Professor Perez. In 2016 he was the first person to discover the spiral structure of the system.

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Theresa Panek’s work allowed her to publish two articles in the prestigious journal The Astrophysical Journal. He leads with Professor Perez, “A Large Dust Disk with Spiral Weapons and Non-Keplerian Dynamics: Elias 2-27 Possible Evidence for Gravitational Instability on Disk”, presenting the results of a study of the disk’s spiral structure. Elias’ Model 2-27. The second article, entitled “Dynamic Measurement of Disk Mass in Elias 2-27” by Ecole Normale Superior de Leon, graduate and current researcher at the University of Milan, is similar to a study The density and mass of the disk were measured, working to confirm another prediction for gravitationally unstable systems.

Gravity instability properties

Finding is the central question of the study The reason for the presence of coils in the protoplanetary disk of Elias 2-27. In their analysis, Theresa Panek and her collaborators on this work suggest that the behavior of the particles that make up this system is determined not only by the influence of its core star, but also by the mass of dust and gas disk accumulated. This massive gravity creates instability, resulting in spiral-shaped structures.

These gravitational instability “have been studied in detail from theory and simulations, but this is the first time we have strong observational evidence that they occur in a system. It’s like catching a ‘hands on flour’ system. “ The astronomer at the University of Chile explains that he-simulations and theoretical models point to gravitational instability as appropriate processes when the disk mass of a system is more than 10 percent of the mass of its star. In this case, the analysis reported in both articles suggests that Elias 2-27 would be about 20 percent. “Typically, based on what we observe in other systems, these disks make up less than 1 percent of the star’s material,” says Theresa Panek.

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The researcher says that as a disk becomes larger, the number of scrolls decreases, and they can be observed in a more limited way, as occurs in Elias 2-27. On the other hand, it describes what this system will be like The size of our solar system many times over. “The scrolls of Elias 2-27 are more than 200 astronomical units, eight times farther from our Sun than Neptune,” he explains.

Commenting on the importance of this research, Professor Laura Perez emphasizes that this is done with data from the Alma Radio Telescope, “It showed us that this material is unique: Many predictions regarding gravity instability were first observed, From trapping dust grains in its spindle arms, to the disturbing dynamics of the dynamic disk near the spindle areas ”.

Formation of planets

Theresa Panek confirms that this discovery provides important information To better understand the processes of planetary formation in these loops, The ideal environment for the appearance of giant planets such as Jupiter. “We think there are two main ways to create planets. One, small particles come together to form rocky planets like us, and then there are gravitational instabilities, which simulations predict are very efficient at creating giant planets. This disk is subject to that process, so what would one expect from this scroll piece?” They form giant planets in pieces, however, which does not rule out the possibility of smaller planets forming, ”he said.

Meanwhile, Professor Laura Perez emphasizes that “reading such a disk helps us to make progress in understanding this strange way of creating planets, and some of them have observations because it seems so unusual.” In this sense, he says, understanding the structure, kinetics, and chemistry of these protoplanetary disks will allow us to better understand the process of forming planets. “There is an ‘avenue’ for the creation of predicted planets, but we have very little observational evidence for that: Planetary formation by gravitational instability on a large disk, Where, thanks to the great gravity of the same disk, it collapses and shatters into parts that can create huge planets ”.

Says a young astronomer at the University of Chile They expect a planetary system to emerge from this dust and gas disk in a maximum of 10 million years. “It’s not the same as the time scale of the stars, our sun is going to live for 12 billion years, so 10 million years is actually very short, but it’s a lot for us humans. Only as many observations as possible can be combined.

Despite this important scientific advancement, gravity instability establishes a bridge between theory and empirical observation of the phenomenon, and there are still many questions in this regard. Currently, an astronomer at the University of Chile is studying for his PhD at ESO, and his first research project will focus on the molecular structure of this disk. “We want to understand What were the primitive ‘materials’ for creating the planets?, Know its chemical reservoir, and see its differences and similarities with other protoplanetary disks. It also makes it possible to contribute to the knowledge of the evolution of life on the planets, ”he comments.

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