The recent image could be the only existential evidence of a planet’s birth in interstellar space, according to study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics.
AB Aurigae – a star found some 520 light years from Earth- has gripped scientists because it is surrounded by a thick disk of dust and gas, creating the ideal conditions for birthing new planets, likewise to a cosmic placenta. A team led by Anthony Boccaletti – an astronomer at the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, sought to gain a closer insight into this world which has produced some of “the most spectacular spirals imaged so far.”
Boccaletti and his mates embarked on capturing this feature using a specialised tool called Spectro- Polarimetric High- contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE), located at the Very Large Telescope in Chile. In January, 2020, the team shot the AB Aurigae system using SPHERE. While the planet itself does not appear in these pictures, the team was able to “resolve a feature in the form of a twist,” which can be “perfectly reproduced” in models of planet formation. Future observations of AB Aurigae may uncover novel details about this baby planet, for example its mass or orbit. Boccaletti and his colleagues aim to continue their examination to discover whether it is a complete world or in the process of condensing into a planet.
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