Astronomers have measured the tilt of the planet’s orbital plane Beta Painter b

The plane of rotation of the young superjupiter Beta Painter b almost coincides with the plane of rotation of the parent star. To such conclusion the British scientists published an article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The early theories of planetary formation, proposed by Kant and Laplace in the eighteenth century, was based on the fact that the orbital planes of the planets of the Solar system is close to the Equatorial plane of the Sun. Today we can measure the correlation between these parameters at exoplanets and their parent stars. In 2000 years, scientists foundthat about a third exoplanetary systems, open method of transit, there are significant discrepancies of these planes. It is believed that such discrepancies with the theory of Laplace explains the gravitational interaction of the planets with objects of stellar mass.

An alternative explanation suggests that the axis of rotation of the star and the orbit plane of the disk where the planets formed, can initially not be the same due to magnetic or hydrodynamic effects. The disk can also be tilted due to turbulence in the gas-dust cloud which formed the star. Therefore, the measurement of the inclination of the planes of the orbits have an increasing number of exoplanets should help astronomers to understand which of the theories better corresponds to reality. However, the hitherto existing method it was possible to do these measurements only the transit of the planets with a period of from several days to tens of days, which significantly limits the researchers.

Stefan Kraus (Stefan Kraus) from Exeter University and his colleagues were first able to measure the angle between the planes of rotation of the stars and planets in directly observed exoplanetary system Beta Painter. The star Beta Painter, is located 63 light years from Earth. It is 1.75 times as massive and 8.7 times brighter than the Sun, and its system 225 times younger than the Sun — approximately 20 million years. In 2008, astronomers from the Laboratory of astrophysics of Grenoble (LAOG), using the NACO instrument telescope VLT in Chile have discovered a planet that goes around the Beta of the Painter. Planet b belongs to the class of superjupiter — she’s about 13 times more massive than the largest planet in the Solar system. Its orbit resembles the orbit of Saturn — the planet rotates around the star for 21 years, at a distance of about 9 astronomical units.

The group of Kraus used the data of the spectral-interferometric observations in the VLTI — Very Large Telescope Interferometer of the European southern Observatory, by measuring different wavelengths of the phase in the absorption lines of gas in the photosphere to detect their shifts due to the rotation of the star.

Measurement accuracy in this case amounted to a millionth of a second corner. This allowed to measure the spatial shifts of size one hundredth of the diameter of the star (which is roughly equivalent to the size of the footprint of man on the moon when viewed from Earth). It turned out that the plane of rotation Beta of the Painter, of planet b and of the residual disc fragments are practically identical — so this system is formed under calm conditions.

Earlier we talked about how astronomers measured the mass of the Beta b of the Painter and how using a telescope VLT has received a four-year timelapse of its rotation around the parent star.

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