Making Jupiters

Aug 21, 2009
A three-color infrared image of the IC 348 Nebula. Some of the stars in this young cluster could have Jupiter-sized planets orbiting them. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

IC348 is a glowing nebula of young stars, hot gas, and cold dust seen in the direction of the constellation of Perseus. It is the nearest rich cluster of young stars to earth, being only about one thousand light-years away. Its proximity has made it an important laboratory for astronomers probing the early stages of stellar evolution and star formation. At an estimated age of only two to three million years, it is also a somewhat young cluster; IC348 did not shine in the night sky of the first hominids. For comparison, our sun is about 4.5 billion years old.

Most stars less than about a million years old are still surrounded by the disks of material from which they formed. These primordial disks contain gas and dust that is also the raw material for planets. As the star ages, planets and smaller bodies form out of some of that material; the rest is soon expelled, or accreted onto the star. After about 3-7 million years, the initial disks are gone. But then a new kind of disk begins to develop as orbiting rocky bodies collide with each other to produce a dusty disk of debris that can be seen with infrared instruments.

This is the simple picture, anyway, that astronomers think is the most consistent with their observations to date. The problem is that sensitive new data from the , and other telescopes, suggest that primordial disks disappear faster, and debris disks appear sooner, around mid- or high mass stars than they do around stars like the sun or smaller. How and why this could occur is an important part of the story of how planets form in stellar systems.

The stars in IC348 have a range of masses and a median age perfect for probing the timing of disk evolution. SAO astronomers Thayne Currie and Scott Kenyon combined new Spitzer observations of IC348 with spectra taken using the 1.5m Tillinghast telescope at the Fred L. Whipple Observatory, and other archival datasets. They find clear evidence that the primordial disks around high and intermediate mass stars do disappear relatively quickly.

Their results imply that such stars have much less time to form giant gas planets -- those like Jupiter and Saturn -- than do their solar-mass counterparts. Since there is some evidence that Jupiter-like planets commonly exist around larger stars, there must be some very rapid (a few million years) and efficient ways of making them.

Astronomers have only recently begun to propose some ways that might happen. The new observations help lend some credibility to the emerging picture of giant gas around massive .

Source: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Explore further: Thermonuclear X-ray bursts on neutron stars set speed record

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Baby Jupiters must gain weight fast

Jan 05, 2009

The planet Jupiter gained weight in a hurry during its infancy. It had to, since the material from which it formed probably disappeared in just a few million years, according to a new study of planet formation ...

Planets Living on the Edge

Dec 17, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Some stars have it tough when it comes to raising planets. A new image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows one unlucky lot of stars, born into a dangerous neighborhood. The stars themselves ...

Probing the nurseries of miniature planetary systems

Nov 21, 2007

New research led by a University of St Andrews astronomer has found evidence for what might be the raw material for the beginning of shrunken versions of our solar system - miniature worlds in the making.

Astronomers Map Out Planetary Danger Zone

Apr 18, 2007

Astronomers have laid down the cosmic equivalent of yellow "caution" tape around super hot stars, marking the zones where cooler stars are in danger of having their developing planets blasted away.

Recommended for you

How can we find tiny particles in exoplanet atmospheres?

Aug 29, 2014

It may seem like magic, but astronomers have worked out a scheme that will allow them to detect and measure particles ten times smaller than the width of a human hair, even at many light-years distance.  ...

Spitzer telescope witnesses asteroid smashup

Aug 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted an eruption of dust around a young star, possibly the result of a smashup between large asteroids. This type of collision can eventually lead to the ...

Witnessing the early growth of a giant

Aug 27, 2014

Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Adam
3 / 5 (2) Aug 21, 2009
Any jupiters made around such young stars should be visible by their heat of formation. Might be perfect for actually spotting one with the right telescopes.
omatumr
1 / 5 (5) Aug 22, 2009
TO MAKE JUPITER

Measurements from the Galileo probe that entered Jupiter in 1995 indicate that this process made Jupiter:

Lightweight elements like H, He, C and N from the outer layer of a supernova -- mixed with a late spike of actinide elements (Th, U, Pu) and heavy isotopes of other elements (e.g., Xe-136) from the r-process -- formed Jupiter.

http://tinyurl.com/359q3u

Isotope and element abundances in Jupiter are unlike those at the surface of the Sun [See: Adam Nolte and Cara Lietz (2000) "Abundances of hydrogen and helium isotopes in Jupiter", in The Origins of the Elements in the Solar System: Implications of Post 1957 Observations (O. K. Manuel, Editor) Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, NY, 589-643].

Excess heat coming from Jupiter is probably generated by the late spike of actinide elements that were by rapid neutron capture, made together with excess Xe-136, in the supernova that gave birth to the solar system 5x10^9 year (Gyr) ago.

http://tinyurl.com/2zxx4q

See: "The origin, composition, and energy source for the Sun" [Abstract #1041, 32nd Lunar & Planetary Science Conference, Houston, TX, 12-16 March 2001] for a very brief (2-page) summary of the origin of Jupiter and the solar system.

http://arxiv.org/...411255v1

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://www.omatumr.com
yaridanjo
1 / 5 (4) Aug 23, 2009
Sol's planets are formed with the aid our our Sun's brown dwarf companion. They are first seeded with primordial black holes. The following shows how planets about other stars can be modeled. Three examples with data verifying some of the larger planets are offered.


http://www.yarida...sel.com/
ASTRO-METRICS
Of Undiscovered Planets And Intelligent Life Forms

See also
http://barry.warmkessel.com/