Astronomers using the very large telescope VLT got 15 pictures of the dust disks around young stars. Images will help you to better understand how to form Earth-like planets, according to a study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
To find out how planets are born, astronomers need to know the history of their origin. To do this, they explore protoplanetary disks — dense spinning disks of gas and dust around young, recently formed stars. According to the most popular theory, planets are formed as a result of the gradual coalescence of dust particles, which merge into bigger objects and then turn into the nuclei of the planets — planetesimals. If such an object will attract a lot of gas, it will turn into a gas giant like Jupiter or Neptune, and if not — in rocky planet such as Mars or Earth. However, there are other possible scenarios — for example, the hypothesis that gas giants are formed as a result of the collapse of the most dense and cold regions of the protoplanetary disk, and therefore, in order to develop an accurate model, astronomers need more qualitative data.
A group of researchers under the leadership of Jacques Kluski (Jacques Kluska) from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium using the tool Precision Integrated-Optics Near-infrared Imaging ExpeRiment (PIONIER) installed on the complex telescopes Very Large Telescope has taken pictures of protoplanetary disks around 15 stars in the infrared range. To achieve better detail, researchers used a method of reconstructing images, in part similar to the one that was used in obtaining the first image of the shadow of a black hole. Scientists have removed the light from the Central star, and then processed the resulting image using a computer algorithm that enabled them to see detail at the scale of the orbits of rocky planets such as Earth or Mars. Can you compare it with the ability to see a man on the moon or to distinguish between the hair at a distance of 10 kilometers.
The analysis showed that the radiation more than half of protoplanetary disks are not arranged symmetrically: in some cases this is due to their inclination, others with morphology. The researchers noticed that some areas of gas and dust disks appear brighter in the images that may indicate the processes of the emergence of new celestial bodies. According to astronomers, this can be traces of gravitational instabilities that lead to the appearance of craters, where the accumulated building blocks for future planets. However, to accurately explain the asymmetry of radiation of the protoplanetary disks group Kluski intends to conduct additional research.
One of the most successful hunters of protoplanetary disks is now considered the ALMA telescope. Thanks to him, astronomers were able to see the protoplanetary disk from the newly born stars, abnormal distribution of gas and dust in the protoplanetary disk of the star HD 163296, and also to predict the frequency of contact with objects comparable in size with Omwamwi in the Solar system.