Astronomers have discovered a spectacular first in terms of star clusters and planet-forming discs of gas, a systemGW Orioniswith a warped disc with torn out inner rings. The team believes that the discs odd shape which defies the common view of a flat plane orbiting planets and gas discswas created when the misalignment of the three stars at the centre of the disc caused it to fracture into distinct rings.
As well as being extraordinary in its own right, the astronomers believe that the warped disc could harbour exotic and strange exoplanetsnot unlike Tatooine in Star Wars series which formed within the inclined rings and are, for now, hidden from view.
The idea that planets form in neatly-arranged, flat discs around young stars goes back to the 18th century and Kant and Laplace, research team-leader Stefan Kraus, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Exeter in the UK, tells ZME Science.Our images reveal an extreme case where the disc is not flat at all, but is warped and has a misaligned ring that has broken away from the disc.
Tatooine planets that orbit around 2 or 3 suns have already been envisioned by science fiction and some Tatooine exoplanets have already been found. Here, we observe how such planets form and find that they can form on extreme, highly inclined orbits in configurations that are completely different from the neat arrangement observed in the Solar System.
The team saw the warped shape of the system GW Orionis, which sits 1300 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Orion, in observations made by the Very Large Telescope (VLT) operated by European Southern Observatory (ESO), and the Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array (ALMA) based in the Chilean desert. But, properly envisioning this shape and its cause meant studying the system for a staggering 11 years.
The most important result from our study is that we can identify the cause for the misalignments and link it to the disc tearing effect that has been proposed by theorists 8 years ago, but has not been observed so far, Kraus continues. For this, it was essential to measure the orbital motion of the three stars that are in the centre of the system over their full 11-year orbital period.
We found that the three stars do not orbit in the same plane, but their orbits are misaligned with respect to each other and with respect to the disc.
We have observed GW Orionis, a triple star system surrounded by a planet-forming disc, with several different telescopes including the VLT and ALMA. After observing the three stars for several years, our team was able to calculate the orbits very accurately, team member Alison Young of the Universities of Exeter and Leicester tells ZME Science. This data allowed us to build a detailed computer model of the system, which predicted that the disc would be bent and even torn to form a separate inner ring.
A couple of years later when we received the data back from the VLT and ALMA, the image of a disc bent and even torn to form a separate inner ring, were stunning.
A paper detailing their work is published in the journal Science.
The images of GW Orionis that the astronomers collected represent the first visualisation of disc-tearing ever captured by researchers. This tearing and the warped effect it created marks this out as a planetary system exceptionally different from the solar system.
The radial shadows in the VLT SPHERE image are clear evidence that the ring is tilted. To form a narrow shadow like this on the disc you need a fairly opaque ring of material that is at an angle to the disc surface blocking the starlight, Young explains. This result is consistent with some modelling done by members of the team which worked out the most likely orientations of the components of the system.
This system is unusual because the orbits of the three stars are misaligned, unlike the planets in the solar system they do not orbit in the same plane, and these stars host a large disc that is also tilted relative to their orbits, Young continues. We see all sorts of intriguing structures now in images of protoplanetary discs but this is the first direct evidence of the disc tearing effect.
The observations also gave the researchers an idea of the vast scale of the GW Orionis disc.
The ring harbours about 30 Earth masses of dust, which is likely sufficient for planet formation to occur in the ring. Any planets formed within the misaligned ring will orbit the star on highly oblique orbits and we predict that many planets on oblique, wide-separation orbits will be discovered in future planet imaging surveys.
As well as being able to reconstruct the torn disc of GW Orionis from the ALMA data in conjunction with data collected from several other telescopes, the team has been able to piece together the process by which this tearing likely occurred. They conclude that it could be a result of those three, misaligned stars. Something that initially came as a surprise to the astronomers.
One very intriguing aspect of GW Orionis is that the orbits of the stars are strongly misaligned with respect to each other, and they are also strongly titled with respect to the large-scale disc. This wasnt clear at the time when we started the study and became only apparent after monitoring the orbit motion for the full 11-years orbital period.
Alison Young explains that because the disc surrounds three stars and the orbits of those stars are misaligned with respect to each other, the gravitational pull on the disc is not the same all the way around. This means that the gas and dust orbiting in the disc around all three stars feels a different force at different positions in the disc. This is what tears the disc apart into separate rings.
Our study shows that the strong distortions observed in the disc such as the warp and torn-away ringcan be explained by the conflicting gravitational pull from the 3 stars. The key aspect is that the orbits are strongly misaligned with the disc.
One interesting consequence of the warping of this gas and dust is that fact that it will wrap rings of material around any planets forming within it. This tearing also has a marked effect on these exoplanets orbits. This leads to conditions that would make the exoplanets in the GW Orionis system significantly different from planets in our own solar system.
The planets in our solar system all have more-or-less aligned orbits. Any planets that form in the warped disc or misaligned ring could have highly inclined orbits, says Young. Further out, the disc is flatter and any planets that form there are likely to orbit in a similar plane to the disc. Of course, any planets that form in the GW Orionis system will also have three suns!
Kraus points out that planets with oblique orbits have been identified beforeparticularly in the case of Hot Jupitersplanets with a mass and size comparable to the solar systems largest planet, but that orbit closer to their star and transit across its face.
Hot Jupiters orbit their stars very close in, and it is clear that they have not formed on the oblique orbits were we observe them. Instead, they must have been moved onto these orbits through migration processes, Kraus says. We havent found yet any long-period planets on oblique orbitscomparable to Earth or Jupiter. However, our research shows that such planets could form in the torn-apart rings around multiple systems.
Given that about half of all stars are found in multiple systems, there could be a huge population of such long-period planets with high obliquity.
Existing under the glare of three suns would make the planets in the GW Orionis system similar in some ways to an exoplanet discovered by astronomers from the University of Arizona in 2016.
The young exoplanet HD 131399Ab, 340 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus, has a scorching hot temperature of around 580 C and exists in a state of constant daytime. It too has been compared to the planet of Tatooine from the Star Wars series. But Straus believes the planets in GW Orionis could be much cooler than thisor could alternate between cool and hot climates.
Planets on such orbits could have stable atmospheric conditions, but would be ice worlds with low temperatures on their surfaces, Kraus says. Planets that might have formed in the circumstellar/ circumbinary disc would experience extreme temperature variations, depending on where they are on their orbit.This should result in a strongly variable climate.
Questions still remain about the GW Orionis system especially in light of research from another team who investigated the system with the ALMA telescope. This work-published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters earlier this year suggests that our understanding of how the disc became warped is missing a vital component. We think that the presence of a planet between these rings is needed to explain why the disc tore apart, says Jiaqing Bi of the University of Victoria, Canada, lead author of a paper.
Speaking to ZME Science exclusively, Kraus addresses this earlier research: This alternative scenario, where a yet-unseen planet located between the inner and middle ring might be the cause for the unusual disc shape, is more speculative, as such as planet has not been found yet, the astrophysicist says. Also, the papers authors had less information on the 3-dimensional shape of the disk as their ALMA observations had 6x lower solution and they did not have scattered-light images showing the shadows. Plus, they did not know the full orbits.
Young continues by adding one future question regarding GW Orionis she would like to see answered also concerns the mechanism that caused the warping of the as and dust planet-forming disc.
An important question we need to look at is how these systems came to be misaligned in the first place. Was the disc formed with the stars, did the material forming the disc arrive later, or did the system get disrupted at some point?
Think of a star as a spinning top tilted at an angle, the researcher suggests. We want to find out how tilted the stars are so we can check whether a stars tiltor spin axis matches the tilt of its disc, or if the stars in a binary or triple system have the same or different tilts.
Some members of the team that made this discovery are currently developing a technique for measuring the spin axis of stars which could massively aid the understanding of how these systems formed.
Remembering that whilst this is not the first system discovered with such a warped disc, it is the first with a directly observed torn disc. This means the key to answering lingering questions likely lies in the direct observation of more systems that share features with GW Orionis.
There are a few planet-forming discs that show some evidence of warping but for these, it is unclear what is causing the effect or there is an alternative scenario that can explain the observations, that has not been ruled out yet, adds Young. This is the first time that disc tearing has been directly observed and the only system so far for which we can link the structure with the physical mechanism behind it.
Young suggests that the results of a larger survey performed by the ALMA array could provide clearer information about the motion of gas in planet-forming discs and their chemical composition, thus helping the team gather more information about the GW Orionis disc.
We would like to obtain high-resolution observations of molecular emission from GW Orionis to shed more light on the motion of the gas in the disc and perhaps reveal any planets that are forming, she explains. Of course, we also are keen to understand if there are differences in how planets might form in warped discs compared to flat discs around a single star and we will be working on new computer models to look at this, using what we have learned from our observations.
Young explains the importance of the GW Orionis images the team captured, whilst focusing on one image that for her, brought home the significance of the investigation in which she played a part.
I find the SPHERE image [above left] in particular amazing because we can really see the disc is a 3-dimensional structure with a surface covered in bumps and shadows. We are looking at what could eventually become an unusual type of planetary system in the very process of forming.
For Stefan Kraus, the beauty of investigating a system such as GW Orionis is the wonder to imagining what it is like to stand on the surface of such a world and stare up into sky. Kraus concludes: Half of the sky would be covered by a massive disc warp that is being illuminated by the 3 stars, intercepted by narrow shadows that are cast by the misaligned disc ring.
I find it fascinating to imagine how the sky would look like from any planet in such a system one would see not only the 3 stars dancing around each other at different speeds but also a massive dust ring extending over the whole firmament.
Here is the original post:
- Widespread Report on the Global Refracting Telescope Market 2020-2028 with the Leading Players Celestron, Vixen Optics, ASTRO-PHYSICS, ORION, Barska,... - September 8th, 2020
- UK Part of New NSF Physics Frontier Center Focused on Neutron Star Modeling in 'Gravitational Wave Era' - UKNow - September 8th, 2020
- University subject profile: physics - The Guardian - September 8th, 2020
- This triple star system warped the protoplanetary discs around it, new research says - CTV News - September 8th, 2020
- Scientists discover first 'intermediate-mass' black hole in massive merger - Big Think - September 8th, 2020
- Looking skin deep at the growth of neutron stars - Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom - September 8th, 2020
- Scientists detect massive galactic collision between black holes that "aren't supposed to exist" - Boing Boing - September 8th, 2020
- China's secretive 'space plane' makes successful return to Earth - CNET - September 8th, 2020
- New High-Res Images of The Sun Show How Creepy Sunspots Look in Closeup - ScienceAlert - September 6th, 2020
- The End of the Universe Will Probably Be Fairly Disappointing - WIRED - September 6th, 2020
- Zooming In Tight on Dark Matter Equivalent of Being Able to See a Flea on the Surface of the Moon - SciTechDaily - September 6th, 2020
- Indian astronomers discover one of the farthest star galaxies in universe - Livemint - September 6th, 2020
- Astronomers Spot a Black Hole so Massive They Werent Sure it Could Exist - Gizmodo Australia - September 6th, 2020
- Space discoveries that will blow your mind | News | helenair.com - Helena Independent Record - September 6th, 2020
- How neutrons and protons arrange themselves in the nucleus? - Tech Explorist - September 6th, 2020
- Kentucky by Heart: Many Kentuckians have made their mark in fields of science and technology - User-generated content - September 6th, 2020
- Q&A with Astrophysics Professor, Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize winner Adam Burrows - The Daily Princetonian - August 17th, 2020
- Astro Bob: Hubble helps solve the mystery of why Betelgeuse faded - Duluth News Tribune - August 17th, 2020
- The Alternative to Dark Matter May be General Relativity Itself - Astrobites - August 17th, 2020
- This is the way the universe ends: not with a whimper, but a bang - Science Magazine - August 17th, 2020
- The Week of August 17, 2020 - FYI: Science Policy News - August 17th, 2020
- Nearly $13 million in federal funding awarded to University of Rochester for Physics Frontier Center - WWTI - InformNNY.com - August 17th, 2020
- The Last Supernovae - Universe Today - August 17th, 2020
- Astronomers find Milky Way look-alike galaxy 12 billion light-years away - BusinessLine - August 17th, 2020
- Dark Matter Breakthrough Allows Probing Three of the Most Popular Theories, All at the Same Time - SciTechDaily - August 17th, 2020
- Exploding Black Dwarfs Could Be the 'Last Interesting Thing to Happen in the Universe' - Gizmodo UK - August 17th, 2020
- Security Inspection Equipment Market is slated to grow rapidly in the coming years Astrophysics, Smiths Detection, Garrett, C.E.I.A., Rapiscan Systems... - August 17th, 2020
- Lovely Professional Universitys Aerospace Engineering student wins international award - The Tribune India - August 17th, 2020
- Minecraft, Bollywood Dance, and Astrophysics Help College Students Connect With Kids Online - NBC Bay Area - August 10th, 2020
- UR #26: Improved Methods for Ground-Based Follow-Up of Young Stars and Planets from the ZEIT Survey - Astrobites - August 10th, 2020
- Investigating the far-flung reaches of the universe - Times Higher Education (THE) - August 10th, 2020
- Alien life bombshell: Scientist says we will find intelligent life 'within our lifetimes' - Daily Express - August 10th, 2020
- Space roar: NASA detected the loudest sound in the universe, but what is it? - Space.com - August 10th, 2020
- From exploring immigrant identities to treating cancer: U of T awarded 29 Canada Research Chairs - News@UofT - August 10th, 2020
- A deep, giant cloud disruption found on Venus - EarthSky - August 10th, 2020
- Astronomers Sink Their Teeth Into Special Supernova Exploding Stars Produce the Calcium in Our Bones and Teeth - SciTechDaily - August 10th, 2020
- Mysterious 'fast radio burst' detected closer to Earth than ever before - Live Science - August 10th, 2020
- Half of All the Calcium in the Universe: Unprecedented Observations Shine Light on a Dying Stars Final Moments - SciTechDaily - August 10th, 2020
- Rapid Changes Detected in a Black Hole May Explain Origin of the Most Energetic Radiation in the Universe - SciTechDaily - August 10th, 2020
- What is Astrophysics? | Space - August 10th, 2020
- Astrophysics - Wikipedia - August 10th, 2020
- NASA Astrophysics | Science Mission Directorate - August 10th, 2020
- Astro-Physics - Buy Telescopes - August 10th, 2020
- An Epic, Planet-Scale Wave Has Been Hiding in The Toxic Clouds of Venus For Decades - ScienceAlert - August 10th, 2020
- Beyond the Fermi Paradox V: What is the Aestivation Hypothesis? - Universe Today - August 10th, 2020
- 'Roaming reactions' study to shed new light on atmospheric molecules - UNSW Newsroom - August 10th, 2020
- From the Italian Renaissance to the stars: an exciting approach to fulfilling GEs > News > USC Dornsife - USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts... - August 8th, 2020
- This Is How It All Ends - The New York Times - August 8th, 2020
- Ben Collins The Stig Top Gear | Surrey - Surrey Life - August 8th, 2020
- Mega Science On The Cover: Class XI Maharashtra Physics Text Shows Gravitational-Wave Detection By LIGO - Swarajya - August 8th, 2020
- Scientists May Have Just Found The Youngest Neutron Star Ever - Forbes - August 8th, 2020
- 'Roaming reactions' study to shed new light on atmospheric molecules - Science Codex - August 8th, 2020
- 'A space race of sorts': Stanford Space Initiative hopes to cross into space with a 'rockoon' - The Stanford Daily - August 8th, 2020
- From the Manhattan Project, a legacy of discovery and a national burden - Stars and Stripes - August 8th, 2020
- Beyond: Dilhan Eryurt and the Formation of the Sun - Astrobites - August 7th, 2020
- Whats The Loudest Sound In The Universe? - Gizmodo Australia - August 7th, 2020
- Airport Automated Security Screening Systems Market Manufacturers Overview 2020-2027 over the Worldwide Regional Analysis of Industry Trends and... - August 7th, 2020
- From the Manhattan Project, a legacy of discovery and a national burden - Stripes Korea - August 7th, 2020
- Security Inspection Equipment Market 2020 Analysis by Geographical Regions, Type and Application Till 2025 with Top Key Players:Astrophysics, Smiths... - August 7th, 2020
- 7 safe and socially distant things to do in Denver this weekend - The Denver Channel - August 5th, 2020
- Mystery radio signal sent to Earth from closest ever point within Milky Way - New York Post - August 5th, 2020
- Dark Energy Survey census of the smallest galaxies hones the search for dark matter - Stanford University News - August 5th, 2020
- MLB Has Made No Changes To The Baseball And Doesnt Plan To For 2020 - Forbes - August 5th, 2020
- 'The Umbrella Academy 2': Who Plays Lila on the Netflix Series and What Else Has She Been In? - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - August 5th, 2020
- Christopher Keane to serve as chair of the APLU Council on Research - WSU News - August 5th, 2020
- Physicists Measured The Central Engine That Powers Solar Flares For The First Time - ScienceAlert - August 5th, 2020
- Cosmic tango between the very small and the very large - ScienceBlog.com - August 3rd, 2020
- Telescope Market Report 2020: Acute Analysis of Global Demand and Supply 2025 with Major Key Player: Celestron, Meade, Vixen Optics, TAKAHASHI,... - August 3rd, 2020
- NASA Is Blasting Just the Biggest Balloon Into the Stratosphere - Popular Mechanics - August 3rd, 2020
- The universe is nearly 10 percent more homogeneous than expected - Tech Explorist - August 3rd, 2020
- Stadium-sized balloon to carry NASA telescope to the edge of space - New Atlas - August 3rd, 2020
- Security Inspection Equipment Market to witness Massive Growth by 2025 - Bulletin Line - August 1st, 2020
- Differences between discs of active and non-active galaxies detected for the first time - Science Codex - August 1st, 2020
- Megaripple Migration Offers Insights into Martian Atmosphere - Eos - August 1st, 2020
- Football Stadium-Sized Balloon To Carry NASA's Cutting-Edge Astrophysics Observations Telescope To Stratosphere - Swarajya - July 31st, 2020
- Oldest surviving light reveals the universe's true age - Space.com - July 31st, 2020
- Top 5 Stargazing Sites in the DMV Region (Your Backyard Is the 6th!) - Our Community Now at Colorado - July 31st, 2020
- Russia Accused Of Firing Anti-Satellite Weapon From One Of Its Satellites In Space - Forbes - July 31st, 2020
- Astrophysics Black holes had been created initially of all the things they usually had been partly light-bringers - Pledge Times - July 31st, 2020
- We might have dozens of contactable Alien neighbors - SBS - July 31st, 2020