ALMA telescope shows how young star and planets grow simultaneously

Jan 02, 2013 by Dave Finley
Artist's conception of HD142527 system: Gas streamers cross gap in protoplanetary disk. Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

(Phys.org)—Astronomers have used the ALMA telescope to get their first glimpse of a fascinating stage of star formation in which planets forming around a young star are helping the star itself continue to grow, resolving a longstanding mystery. The young system, about 450 light-years from Earth, is revealing its complex gravitational dance to the ever-sharpening vision of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), scheduled for completion this year.

As gather material from their surrounding clouds of and dust, the incoming material forms a flat, spinning disk around the star. Planets begin as small clumps within that disk that, through their gravitational pull, add to their mass. As the planets pull in more material, they also leave a wake in their trail that clears out a gap in the disk. Such gaps have been observed in the dust disks surrounding a number of still-forming solar systems.

During this process, the star also continues to grow more massive, leading to the question of how material can get through the gap cleared by the protoplanets and onto the star.

"This has been a bit of a mystery, but now we have found a process that allows the star to continue to grow despite the gap," said Simon Casassus, of the University of Chile and the Millennium Nucleus for Protoplanetary Disks, who led an international research team.

First, the scientists found that the gap is not empty, but is filled by thin, tenuous gas, as shown by ALMA detection of carbon monoxide. "Whereas dust is severely depleted within the gap, some residual gas remains," said Gerrit van der Plas, of the University of Chile. "This agrees with predictions for gap clearing by a planetary-mass body," he added.

Next, ALMA revealed streamers of (HCO+, or Formyl ion) crossing through the gap, bringing material from the outer portion of the disk, near and onto the planets, and into the disk's inner portion, closer to the star than where planets probably are forming. These streamers, the scientists say, probably are caused by the of the young planets.

"The most natural interpretation for the flows seen by ALMA is that the putative are pulling streams of gas inward toward them that are channelled by their gravity. Much of the gas then overshoots the planets and continues inward to the portion of the disk close to the star, where it can eventually fall onto the star itself," Casassus said.

In the system Casassus and his colleagues studied, called HD 142527, they calculated that, without the streamers, the inner portion of the disk would be depleted in less than a year. However, the gas delivered by the streamers is sufficient to maintain the inner disk and the star's observed rate of mass growth.

"Computer simulations indicated that such a process should be happening, and now we've found it," said Sebastian Perez of the University of Chile.

The planets, the scientists said, should be embedded in the dense streams of infalling gas, and likely are several times more massive than Jupiter, the largest planet in our . The dense gas in the streamers, however, obscures the planets from direct observation.

In the HD 142527 system, the inner disk extends outward from the young star about 10 times the distance from the Sun to the Earth, or just past the orbit of Saturn. The gap extends from there to more than 140 times the Sun-Earth distance. The , the scientists said, should lie within the gap, at a distance of about 90 times the Sun-Earth distance.

"The new capabilities provided by ALMA made this work possible, but this is just the beginning," Casassus said of the international millimeter-wave observatory still under construction in northern Chile.

The research team reported their findings in the scientific journal Nature.

Explore further: Spectacular supernova's mysteries revealed

More information: This research was presented in a paper, "Flows of gas through a protoplanetary gap", to appear in the journal Nature on January 2, 2013.

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User comments : 35

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Lurker2358
1.8 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2013
Planets are going to be ejected then.

If the planets are pulling in the material and slinging it inward, in what would have been a hyperbolic trajectory (but the star's gravity then catches the material,) then conservation of angular momentum would require than the planets move more and more outward from the star. Eventually they'll get thrown out of orbit if there is enough material available in the outer part of the star system.

It would seem that a super-Jupiter sized rogue planet could be the seed for a new proto-star as it travels to some other place in the nebula, potentially scooping up gas as it goes.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2013
The fact that the planets are firmly embedded in the disk goes against your theory.

The planets should be acquiring mass... thus losing momentum and should be falling inward towards the star.
abledoc
1 / 5 (1) Jan 02, 2013
It is believed that large planets (like Jupiter) form closer to the star and then move outward. So Lurker's scenario is still possible
extinct
2 / 5 (4) Jan 02, 2013
how about an actual image from ALMA, so we can see the result of its new sharper vision? the photo provided in this article is an artist's conception, i.e. a fake
axemaster
not rated yet Jan 02, 2013
This sounds like a process well suited for growing supermassive black holes.
kornus
5 / 5 (3) Jan 02, 2013
kevinrtrs
1.6 / 5 (19) Jan 02, 2013
One has to question the conclusion reached here about this observation being the formation of a new star and planets.
Firstly, what has actually been observed?
Then, since we don't know the history of the observation, how can we conclude that this is indeed the formation of a new star and planets?
Until and only IF it is ever observed that a star can form from a cloud of gas can we begin to make statements such as those being thrown about in the article.
Right now, it appears that the observation is simply that of a star sucking in gas. Nothing else can be said about how it got there or whether planets are forming.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (4) Jan 02, 2013
It is believed that large planets (like Jupiter) form closer to the star and then move outward. So Lurker's scenario is still possible


Actually, it's about half and half, and is somewhat differnt for every system.

Gas giants can't form extremely close to stars. They form in the icy zone, supposedly.

They move in or out by deflecting other objects. If the deflection is inward then the planet moves outward. If the deflection is outward, then the planet moves inward.

In the outer part of a solar system, the process would work the opposite. As the planet moves out toward the oort cloud, it accelerates more of the objects inward than outward, on average, and conservation of angular momentum means the planet gets accelerated outward even more.

And yes, the plant does continue growing, but it doesn't "lose" momentum, because most of the orbiting objects have about the same initial momentum. It is the slight differences which allow a sling-shot to transfer momenta to the planet.
Mike_Massen
2.3 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2013
Really kevinrtrs
Nothing else can be said about how it got there or whether planets are forming.
Are you saying your deity can't or refuses to communicate with you - is that because, despite your many prayers (and you have been praying for advice - yes ?) you are totally ignored and not treated as any sort of valuable being or even a 'prophet', how about a peer reviewed article, is that too much for a deity or some contemporary prophet such as kevinrtrs, or maybe you are a messenger for your prophet yet to come, what is the prediction there kevinrtrs, what might his/its name be, can you guess kevinrtrs ?

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (9) Jan 02, 2013
Firstly, what has actually been observed? Then, since we don't know the history of the observation, how can we conclude that this is indeed the formation of a new star and planets?
So kevin validates the idea that faith is belief DESPITE evidence. First he complains that there is no evidence and then when he is presented with evidence he rejects it.

Kevin do you not have ears to hear? How has your heart become so hardened? Why did your god write a book that differs so greatly from the universe he created?
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 02, 2013
Note that these are core collapse gas giants, not terrestrials that get their mature atmosphere from outgassing.

Seeing HCO means chemical evolution is ongoing in the protoplanetary disk.

And as alwauys, creationists shouldn't comment on science. It is hilarious and makes deconverts, see Dawkins' Converts' Corner.

Here it is obvious that the creationist hasn't bothered to read the paper on its observations and how they are made. @ TGO: Creationists are openly immoral, they lie for their gods.

@ Lurker, abledoc: Planets are known to migrate inwards in disks when they are under dissipative forcing as here. For outwards including ejection, mechanisms including planet-planet interaction is often responsible.

And no, nomads are not massive enough to trigger star formation. You need a turbulence of several star masses worth in a molecular cloud to start a protoplanetary disk (with its star) going.

@ axemaster: ? This is about protoplanetary disks with star and planet formation.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 02, 2013
By the way, it is interesting how our resident creationist troll has lost its script during the holidays. He wants to insert the "no written record, so we can't make science" religious historical fallacy, but confuses it with how the observation is made.

According to creationist logic it is impossible to point at a living human and, since we propagate sexually, say "he/she had a father and mother" despite not being there or not having written records.

It is also, according to creationist logic, impossible to point at a water molecule and say that it consists of H2O, since we weren't there at its formation out of H and O.

Incidentally, the mutability of chemistry was a total catastrophe for creationists. Suddenly there were no chemical "kinds", and people had to understand that the historical fallacy was, well, a fallacy.

Natural processes of any kind is disastrous for creationists. One wonders why they let go of "angels push them around" of everything matter.
Lurker2358
1 / 5 (7) Jan 03, 2013
You believe creation somehow implies a lack of order or understanding, when in fact it actually implies quite the opposite: total order, whereby even the things we cannot currently understand are in fact ordered.

You think physics somehow excludes God, but that just makes you narrow minded.

I think God created physics, and it's likely a tiny fraction of his knowledge and power.
RitchieGuy01
Jan 03, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jan 03, 2013
If the planets are pulling in the material and slinging it inward, in what would have been a hyperbolic trajectory (but the star's gravity then catches the material,) then conservation of angular momentum

No. They also attract gas that is inward (twarad the star) so the net effect is zero (actually they move a bit closer to the star while still collecting material since the stuff directly in their path slows them down. )

I think God created physics, and it's likely a tiny fraction of his knowledge and power.

Wishful thinking does not an argument make.
GSwift7
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 03, 2013
wow, ALMA is already paying off big time. This is a truely historical observation, and allows us to write another page in the history book of the Universe.

I look forward to seeing more observations of planetary systems in formation, so that we can compare and contrast this system with others and begin to cement the mathematical rules that govern the process.

This observation is extraordinary because it is a first of its kind, but you really need a catalog of various types before you can establish if this is a typical system or an anomoly.

I say once again that advances in computer aided optics are opening a truely historic chapter in science in our lifetime. It's a shame that 90% of the people alive today probably do not realize the significance of the science happening around us. We have science in our lifetime which easily rivals the discoveries of Gallileo, and our time will be seen as significant hundreds of years from now. It's amazing.
Mike_Massen
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2013
Lurker2358 mumbled again rather meekly and without provenance
I think God created physics, and it's likely a tiny fraction of his knowledge and power.
Interesting Lurker2358, what is the source in however nebulous terms of this 'thought' ?

Either way, lets move on...
I'll bite, what are the clearly definitive attributes of this 'God' and is it in any way anthropomorphic and has it *ever* communicated with any human in any minor or major way at all and offered that human *any* opportunity to expand this communication in any substantive way at all *ever* - as in the so called old testament (accepted to be) offered by Moses ?

Does the deity you think about Lurker2358, decide to, at any point in time or space to modify his/her/its 'laws' of physics and does he/she/it do it because of or despite our understanding of physics "at the time" ;-)

What does your deity have knowledge of if its the God, as apart to what it has learned as if it were not a God or created by will ?

*grin*
cantdrive85
1.5 / 5 (8) Jan 03, 2013
An entire article and research paper about the virtues of gas, yet, unsurprisingly, there is NO gas to be found. Moral of the story, waste of space and completely ill-conceived in the approach. Maybe one of these days these days astrophysicists will learn the basics of the various states of matter and the properties thereof, but then again, probably not being this is not at all new.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Jan 03, 2013
I think God created physics, and it's likely a tiny fraction of his knowledge and power.
God created a universe destined to die of heat death. This is not very elegant.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Jan 03, 2013
An entire article and research paper about the virtues of gas, yet, unsurprisingly, there is NO gas to be found.


Have you read the paper? If not, you don't know what they found.

Moral of the story, waste of space and completely ill-conceived in the approach.


You are indeed.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (10) Jan 03, 2013
An entire article and research paper about the virtues of gas, yet, unsurprisingly, there is NO gas to be found.


Have you read the paper? If not, you don't know what they found.

Moral of the story, waste of space and completely ill-conceived in the approach.


You are indeed.

For the same reason you don't feel it necessary to refer to biblical texts to analyze scientific research, I don't feel the need to read this "scientific paper" whose authors don't even understand basic scientific principles.
GSwift7
3.5 / 5 (8) Jan 03, 2013
An entire article and research paper about the virtues of gas, yet, unsurprisingly, there is NO gas to be found. Moral of the story, waste of space and completely ill-conceived in the approach. Maybe one of these days these days astrophysicists will learn the basics of the various states of matter and the properties thereof, but then again, probably not being this is not at all new


With the star not yet formed and the gas cool enough that it is able to condense and form planets and a star, I doubt that it is ionized into plasma. This 'gas' should actually be a gas. If it were hot enough to self-ionize then it would be too hot to condense as they have observed here.

Now, stop snorting plasma. I think it's starting to affect your brain.
cantdrive85
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 03, 2013
"Next, ALMA revealed streamers of dense gas (HCO , or Formyl ion) crossing through the gap, bringing material from the outer portion of the disk, near and onto the planets, and into the disk's inner portion, closer to the star than where planets probably are forming."

Let's not let silly facts get in the way of your beliefs.

RitchieGuy01
1 / 5 (6) Jan 03, 2013
I think God created physics, and it's likely a tiny fraction of his knowledge and power.
God created a universe destined to die of heat death. This is not very elegant.
GhostofOtto

Anything anybody wants to know about science. . . .just ask Otto. He knows more than y'all will ever know. He's my lover man.
Just waiting for him to call me so we can resume our lives after I get back from Sicily.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2013
Let's not let silly facts get in the way of your beliefs


The formyl group, or formyl ions, are very basic organic molecules. They are not en electromagnetically derived ion as you are thinking. The double carbon bond leaves the molecule short one electron until they bond with another molecule, which makes them acidic, as I understand it. Though chemistry is not my favorite topic in science.

See the following wiki on Aldehyde's if you want to learn more:

http://en.wikiped...Aldehyde

cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2013
Let's not let silly facts get in the way of your beliefs


The formyl group, or formyl ions, are very basic organic molecules. They are not en electromagnetically derived ion as you are thinking. The double carbon bond leaves the molecule short one electron until they bond with another molecule, which makes them acidic, as I understand it. Though chemistry is not my favorite topic in science.

See the following wiki on Aldehyde's if you want to learn more:

http://en.wikiped...Aldehyde


So, now ions are not really ions? The denial of the obvious is ASTOUNDING. This is the same type of blindness and ignorance that prevents real scientific discovery.
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 08, 2013
The formyl group, or formyl ions, are very basic organic molecules. They are not en electromagnetically derived ion as you are thinking. The double carbon bond leaves the molecule short one electron until they bond with another molecule, which makes them acidic, as I understand it. Though chemistry is not my favorite topic in science.

See the following wiki on Aldehyde's if you want to learn more:

http://en.wikiped...Aldehyde


So, now ions are not really ions? The denial of the obvious is ASTOUNDING. This is the same type of blindness and ignorance that prevents real scientific discovery.


What is truly astounding is you read somewhere in his reply that an ion isn't an ion. He said they are not electromagnetically derived ions, and he is entirely correct.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2013
What is truly astounding is you read somewhere in his reply that an ion isn't an ion. He said they are not electromagnetically derived ions, and he is entirely correct


Yes.

Cantdrive, you are confused by thinking that these ions are the same as the high energy ions in a planetary nebula or a star. These molecules are cool and are therefore able to bond with other atoms or molecules. The high energy plasma you are talking about is composed of single atoms who cannont take up an electron in their highest atomic orbits because their energy (temperature) is too high. The low energy (temperature) of the molecules (clumps of cool atoms) in the above story allows these molecules to mutually attract under the force of gravity. If they were high energy atoms (plasma), then gas pressure laws would keep the atoms apart from one another and the planets would not form.

Once the star starts nuclear fusion it will heat the remaining gas in the system into a plasma and drive it away.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2013
What is truly astounding is you read somewhere in his reply that an ion isn't an ion. He said they are not electromagnetically derived ions, and he is entirely correct.

There you go again, using that "knowledge" that does little but clutter up your ability to see what should otherwise be obvious. Regardless of how you want to claim this plasma originated, the fact of the matter remains, these molecules are ionized and they will behave according to EM laws, gravitation has little effect. And in the face monumental amount of evidence you continue to have this erroneous belief that the natural state of matter is something other than plasma.

"The only place in the Universe where plasma is not found, that is a non-hydrodynamic treatment is valid for the matter present, is the crustal regions of planets: in the solar system, the inner planets" (Alfvén, 1976)

http://plasmauniv...sma.html
rubberman
1 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2013
Gentlemen. It has been a pleasure commenting with all of you.

Buckle up and hold on tight....because as the young folks say, shit just got real, (on a universal scale).

As a general statement, building a theory around the weakest of the 4 forces was in retrospect understandable based on observations, made at a time when our understanding was lower than today....way lower. GS7, the nature of the fundamental forces makes it physically impossible for matter/energy to coalesce (organize) because of gravity as you stated above, forget what you were taught, other than the order of strength of those forces. When you think about this, really think, what is the binding force of an atom, 2 atoms together, molecules, all matter/energy.

I'm not sayin' more because as a theory, it ain't just my baby. But it is verifiable and we are doing just that.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2013
Regardless of how you want to claim this plasma originated


Cool ionic molecules are not a plasma.

Let's review the 4 basic states of matter:

Solid - the lowest energy state of matter
Liquid - the 2nd energy state
Gas - the next energy state above liquid
Plasma - the highest energy state of normal matter

The molecules in the story above must be in the lower 3 states of matter for them to chemically combine and condense into solid bodies like planets. Ionized solids, liquids and gases are not plasma. For example, when you disolve table salt in water, those hydrogen chloride ions are not plasma.

Most 5th graders get this stuff.

A forming system like the one above will have matter in all 4 states, but it must be dominated by the cooler states in order for it to condense. Plasma has too much energy to collapse on its own in a vaccum.
GSwift7
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 09, 2013
As a general statement, building a theory around the weakest of the 4 forces was in retrospect understandable based on observations, made at a time when our understanding was lower than today....way lower. GS7, the nature of the fundamental forces makes it physically impossible for matter/energy to coalesce


Our modern theory of solar sytem formation takes all the fundamental forces into account. You are correct that gravity alone is not the only thing going on. Thermodynamics, electromagnetism, chemistry, etc, etc must all be taken into account to derive a theory that makes sense. It's those very things that tell us the material condensing into planets cannot be in the plasma state.

Once again, must we talk about the difference between plasma and matter in another state that has a charge? Rub a ballon on your sweater, it gains a net charge. It is not plasma. It's a solid object.
rubberman
1 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2013
All correct GS7. We now have the how and the why from the atom to the overall universal structure and all in between. The logic is irrefutable and the mechanisms are well understood.

The best way to describe it without blowing my load prematurely would be if you had to assemble a puzzle, but first you have to build the pieces of that puzzle out of other puzzles.

We are fortunate that real geniuses such as Einstein, Schrodinger, Maxwell, Tesla and Ohm solved the smaller puzzles first.
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2013
We now have the how and the why from the atom to the overall universal structure and all in between. The logic is irrefutable and the mechanisms are well understood.

The best way to describe it without blowing my load prematurely would be if you had to assemble a puzzle


Well, I think the puzzle analogy is interesting, but I assume you are being patronizing in the first paragraph.

I certainly wasn't implying any such absolute knowledge on such a grand scale. Our current state of the art in solar system formation theory is rather crude, but there are a few things we have figured out from observations and math. One thing that is encouraging is that our observations continue to agree with the fundamentals of the mainstream theory. There are many parts where we have very wide ranges for some of the unknown values, such as the time spans and chronological order of various stages in solar system formation. We've seen enough to be confident we're on the right track though.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2013
Swift,
Once again, if it is not plasma, why are there filaments and other characteristics of plasma? They call it ionized, it's immersed in a sea of plasma, but it's not plasma? Weird.
GSwift7
3 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2013
Swift,
Once again, if it is not plasma, why are there filaments and other characteristics of plasma? They call it ionized, it's immersed in a sea of plasma, but it's not plasma? Weird


Didn't you read my post? Ionized molecules and atoms can be in any of the 4 states of matter, not just plasma. Dust, aerosols, gas, and yes some plasma, but not much. Keep in mind that there's not a star here yet. Once the star forms it'll heat everything up and then you'll have a plasma environment until the star's solar wind blows it all away. But that's much later in the game.

The filaments in this system are formed by the orbit of the protoplanets through the cloud. They are acting like the blades in a blender, forming something like the swirl pattern you see at the top of a milkshake while you are blending it up. It's a combination of gravity, intertia, gas laws (thermal), and yes some electromagnetic forces too.