European telescope discovers the three youngest planets

Three of the youngest planets of the galaxy have been discovered thanks to a new search technique, made with the telescope Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) from the European Space Observatory (ESO).

A method that could serve to understand with greater accuracy how the protoplanets  form and turns in the strongest evidence until this moment that the just created planets are orbiting right there.

This has been the result of an investigation of two independent teams of astronomer led from the University of Monash (in Australia) and the University of Michigan (in the U.S) which have watched how three of the youngest planets orbit around the star HD 163296 which is located about 330 light years away from the Earth.

According to researchers in the Astrophysical Journal Letters magazine, this accomplishment gives green light to a new way of studying how the planet systems form through the observations of the planetary discs.

A protoplanetary disc is what astronomers know as ¨factories¨ of planets full of gas and dust, which surround the youngest stars. In this case the rings and holes found in these discs have served to prove the presence of protoplanets. Through the observations with ALMA , astronomers have identified three perturbations in the disc around the star HD163296. A test that have become the most important evidence so far, that there are planet embryos orbiting this star.

¨Measuring the flow of gas inside a protoplanetary disc, give us a lot of certainty that planets are present around a young star¨, declares in a comment of ESO Christophe Pinte, main author of one of the studies of the Monash University and the Astrophysics Institute of Grenoble (France). ¨This technique offers a new direction to know the formation and evolution of the planetary systems¨.

Both  teams based their respected studies in the observations of ALMA. Having twice as much the mass of the Sun, the young star HD 163296 was photographed by the telescope to analyze the present gas in the disc since the dust had been already photographed in high resolution with the same technique in former observations.

¨We can observe the located movement of gas in the protoplanetary disc. This new approach could reveal some of the youngest planets of our galaxy thanks to the images of high resolution of ALMA¨, describes Richard Teague, main author of the other study of the University of Michigan.

Both teams study the carbon monoxide molecules all around the disc since they emit a light of a length of a pinpoint wave, perceptible by ALMA. The changes detected in this wave length due to the Doppler effect- which implies the change in frequency or wave length in relation with another object which also moves according to the wave-, they reveal the gas movement gas in the disc. Analyzing this movement carefully, researchers could discover in the gas the influence of planetary bodies similar to the mass of Jupiter.

Teague´s team identified two planets located 12 billion and 21 billion kilometers from the Earth respectively. The other one was discovered by Pinte, which detected it 39 billion kilometers away from the star.

Nowadays, both teams continue perfecting this method to apply it to other discs with which they expect to understand how are formed the atmosphere and what molecules need a planet in the moment of its birth.

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