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Historic image reveals birth of a planet

A historic discovery, and nearly of the same magnitude of the first photo taken of a black hole could be the that showed this Wednesday, may 20, the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (VLT of ESO), which has revealed the signs of a stellar system is born, with the first evidence of a planet baby in training.

Observations of exoplanets are of the AB Aurigae and conducted some years ago with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA ). In the images of SOUL , the scientists saw two spiral arms of gas close to the star, which is located within the internal region of the disk. Then, in 2019 and early 2020, Anthony Boccaletti, who led the study at the Paris Observatory and a team of astronomers from France, Taiwan, USA and Belgium were proposed to capture a clearer picture by turning the instrument SPHERE.

The new photos feature a shot of a stunning spiral of gas and dust around AB Aurigae, located 520 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Auriga. The spirals of this kind indicate the presence of planets babies, that ‘kick’ the gas, creating ” perturbations in the disk in the form of a wave, something like the wake of a boat in a lake,“ explains Emmanuel Di Folco of the Astrophysics Laboratory of Bordeaux (LAB), France, who also participated in the study.

In the image below, the region of ‘spin’ yellow very bright near the center of the new image AB Aurigae, which is about the same distance from the star than Neptune from the Sun, is one of these sites from disturbance where the team believes that it is birthing a planet.

“Until now, we have identified thousands of exoplanets, but little is known about how they formed,” says Anthony Boccaletti.

The co-author of the observations Anne Dutrey, also in the laboratory of astrophysics of Bordeaux, holds about this image, “corresponde to the connection of two spirals, one that is wound inward of the orbit of the planet and the other that expands outward, that join at the location of the planet. Allow the gas and dust of the disk to accumulate on the planet in training and make it grow.”

This research is presented in the document “Possible evidence of the formation of planets in course in AB Aurigae: A sample of the synergy SPHERE / SOUL” that will appear in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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