The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets

The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets
The inner red regions represent the dust in the disc, thought to be shaped into rings by forming planets. The wider blue region is the carbon monoxide (CO) gas in the disc. The inner green region shows the rarer 13C17O gas that the researchers have detected for the first time. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), Booth and colleagues, University of Leeds

Astronomers using one of the most advanced radio telescopes have discovered a rare molecule in the dust and gas disc around a young star—and it may provide an answer to one of the conundrums facing astronomers.

The star, named HD 163296, is located 330 from Earth and formed over the last six million years.

It is surrounded by a disc of dust and gas—a so-called . It is within these discs that young planets are born. Using a radio telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile, researchers were able to detect an extremely faint signal showing the existence of a rare form of carbon monoxide—known as an isotopologue (13C17O).

The detection has allowed an international collaboration of scientists, led by the University of Leeds, to measure the mass of the gas in the disc more accurately than ever before. The results show that disc is much heavier—or more 'massive' - than previously thought.

Alice Booth, a Ph.D. researcher at Leeds who led the study, said: "Our new observations showed there was between two and six times more mass hiding in the disc than previous observations could measure.

"This is an important finding in terms of the birth of planetary systems in discs—if they contain more gas, then they have more building material to form more massive planets."

The study—The first detection of 13C17O in a : a robust tracer of disk gas mass—is published today in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The scientists' conclusions are well timed. Recent observations of protoplanetary discs have perplexed astronomers because they did not seem to contain enough gas and dust to create the planets observed.

The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets
As young planets grow within these discs they carve out gaps, leading to a structure of concentric rings. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

Dr. John Ilee, a researcher at Leeds who was also involved in the study, added: "The disc-exoplanet mass discrepancy raises serious questions about how and when planets are formed. However, if other discs are hiding similar amounts of mass as HD 163296, then we may just have underestimated their masses until now."

"We can measure disc masses by looking at how much light is given off by molecules like carbon monoxide. If the discs are sufficiently dense, then they can block the light given off by more common forms of carbon monoxide—and that could result in scientists underestimating the mass of the gas present.

"This study has used a technique to observe the much rarer 13C17O molecule—and that's allowed us to peer deep inside the disc and find a previously hidden reservoir of gas."

The researchers made use of one of the most sophisticated in the world—the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) - high in the Atacama Desert.

ALMA is able to observe light that is invisible to the naked eye, allowing astronomers to view what is known as the 'cold universe' - those parts of space not visible using optical telescopes.

Booth said: "Our work shows the amazing contribution that ALMA is making to our understanding of the Universe. It is helping build a more accurate picture of the physics leading to the formation of new planets. This of course then helps us understand how the Solar System and Earth came to be."

The researchers are already planning the next steps in their work.

Booth added: "We suspect that ALMA will allow us to observe this rare form of CO in many other discs. By doing that, we can more accurately measure their mass, and determine whether scientists have systematically been underestimating how much matter they contain."


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A young star caught forming like a planet

More information: Astrophysical Journal Letters (2019). iopscience.iop.org/article/10. … 847/2041-8213/ab3645
Journal information: Astrophysical Journal Letters

Citation: The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets (2019, September 12) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-rare-molecule-birth-planets.html
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Sep 12, 2019
How much does this finding depend on this rare molecule NOT being more common around this star? Can somebody tell by reading the paper this article reports on? I notice in the abstract the phrase "and assuming interstellar isotopic abundances"...

I just get the sense that this seems too much like, "Darn, all these previous observations have not been fitting the theory... but now THIS one works better so we can take it and patch things up." Isn't it a little early to celebrate? "Weighing in," yes, but not time to breathe a sigh of relief yet.

Sep 12, 2019
OlDreamer - you speak as someone who doesn't understand how the science works. If you wanted to understand, do a little research on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes and how molecules containing rare stable elemental isotopes substituted for their more common equivalents can be used as tracers to make much more accurate measurements when the density of the common version is too high.

Sep 12, 2019
ALMA does it again. This is one of the most effective radio telescopes in existence.

Sep 12, 2019
Not my area but what the hey, will comment anyway.

Couple this with recent discoveries of iron/carbon molecules floating around emitting almost nothing detectable.
More undiscovered mass seems more than likely, after all, planets most definitely are forming.

Sep 12, 2019
ALMA does it again. This is one of the most effective radio telescopes in existence.

Aww...Da Schitebo. Figured out that, all by yourself...did YA. Come... here...have some candy...you little Mr. Smartypants....yooouu.


Sep 13, 2019
Nice, @Castro. Thanks.

It also is worth noting that spectroscopy rules.

Sep 13, 2019
Is this also a step closer to finding sources of dark matter? Maybe at least some part of dark matter = cold matter like in this example?

Sep 13, 2019
OlDreamer - you speak as someone who doesn't understand how the science works. If you wanted to understand, do a little research on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes and how molecules containing rare stable elemental isotopes substituted for their more common equivalents can be used as tracers to make much more accurate measurements when the density of the common version is too high.


Yeah, this particular example science is apparently way over my head -- I was hoping someone could provide a clear and simple explanation, but it sounds like it's one of those things a lay person would have to do a lot more than "a little research" to properly evaluate. However, what you wrote apparently has nothing to do with what I asked anyway. I get the general idea of using rare isotopes to get more accurate measurements.

Sep 13, 2019
Is this also a step closer to finding sources of dark matter? Maybe at least some part of dark matter = cold matter like in this example?


No, ordinary molecules and atoms have already been ruled out as possibilities.

Sep 13, 2019
OlDreamer - you speak as someone who doesn't understand how the science works. If you wanted to understand, do a little research on stable carbon and oxygen isotopes and how molecules containing rare stable elemental isotopes substituted for their more common equivalents can be used as tracers to make much more accurate measurements when the density of the common version is too high.

So, Parsec the foundation of science is to question, which OIDreamer did. You on the other hand, "understands" science works, by reading and accepting, without question. IOW, you know nothing and understands even less.

9 hours ago
How much does this finding depend on this rare molecule NOT being more common around this star? Can somebody tell by reading the paper this article reports on? I notice in the abstract the phrase "and assuming interstellar isotopic abundances"...


Those abundances are estimated elsewhere, and simply extrapolated to this system (and soon many more) for the purposes of an estimate. Finding a discrepancy in the first place, and one that explain a current question at that, is naturally taken as being on the right path.

What would be your alternative? Conspiracy theory of the find being an ad hoc 'patch'? And thinking that ""We suspect that ALMA will allow us to observe this rare form of CO in many other discs. By doing that, we can more accurately measure their mass, and determine whether scientists have systematically been underestimating how much matter they contain."" means someone is prematurely celebratory?

Get a grip.

8 hours ago
@OlDreamerDavid
@lseeker.

@lseeker said:
Is this also a step closer to finding sources of dark matter? Maybe at least some part of dark matter = cold matter like in this example?"


@OlDreamerDavid said:
No, ordinary molecules and atoms have already been ruled out as possibilities.


@OlDreamerDavid, your response to @Iseeker appears to be a non-sequitur. The whole point of finding previously undetectable ordinary matter by means such as this makes the previous "ruling out" of ordinary matter premature at best; and at worst, outright erroneous due to basing such "ruling out" on patently simplistic assumptions based in turn on patently insufficient information due to that very ordinary matter not being detected before now in the quantities we are finding all over the place with new and improved scopes/instruments and reviews of old observational data. Can you see now how your response to @Iseeker is non-sequitur in the context of this discovery? :)

8 hours ago
No, ordinary molecules and atoms have already been ruled out as possibilities.


Correct.

7 hours ago
@RC, two to six times more isn't anywhere near enough, especially not in protoplanetary disks. Do the math.

6 hours ago
@Da Schneib.
@RC, two to six times more isn't anywhere near enough, especially not in protoplanetary disks. Do the math.
With respect, that kind of dismissive response has been used every time the mainstream has found yet more ordinary matter previously not detectable when 'exotic' DM hypotheses were being formed based on patently simplistic/ill-informed estimates' of the ordinary matter. At least when Zwicky made his DM hypothesis he tacitly acknowledged that we were not (then) seeing all the ordinary matter because it was not in states which were readily detectable at that time. Mainstream has been for years now finding more and more of Zwicky's posited ordinary 'dunk' matter...and for all those years you and others here have used the same lame excuse for denying what must now be plainly obvious to even the most 'blind' of 'blind Freddies'. When will you and the others stop being dentists and start catching up with all the mainstream discoveries and connect all those dots? :)

6 hours ago
@DS. Please note the typos:

'dunk' should have been 'dunkle'.

'dentists' should have been 'denialists'.

Thanks.

6 hours ago
I know of not a single scientist who claims DM can be explained by ordinary baryonic matter. I've been asking for links for ages. Zilch. If this is only the opinion of a layman on a comments section, then we can, and will, safely ignore it.

6 hours ago
@Castrogiovanni.
I know of not a single scientist who claims DM can be explained by ordinary baryonic matter. I've been asking for links for ages. Zilch. If this is only the opinion of a layman on a comments section, then we can, and will, safely ignore it.
How secure would their pay/positions be if they started bucking the now-longstanding 'exotic DM' meme, mate? History shows that sometime it takes an independent outsider to call it as it is without fear or favour. Just because the whole training/PhD system produces 'yes men' in order for the candidates to pass and be published, it doesn't mean everything is hunky dory in that system or the assumptions/interpretations which that system perpetuates. I've been pointing out all the flaws and alternatives for you for years now, and all you can do is 'not think' for yourself; just waiting for some brave mainstreamer to spell it all out FOR you? Think for yourself. Connect all those dots; stop denying them using lame excuses. :)

6 hours ago
How secure would their pay/positions be if they ......


Oh dear! Crankery 101! It's all a conspiracy! Idiot.

6 hours ago
For anybody who wants to keep count;

http://math.ucr.e...pot.html

6 hours ago
@Castrogiovanni.
How secure would their pay/positions be if they ......


Oh dear! Crankery 101! It's all a conspiracy! Idiot.
History shows us that it happens, mate. Denying and ignoring the lessons of history means you are doomed to be repeating the same mistakes again and again. Will you never learn? I am the one who has been correct all along on this and other important matters, while you have just denied and remained trapped in old/simplistic/erroneous/obsolete fantasies based on nothing but ill-informed guesses by those who have come to prefer publication for anything that will serve their ego and/or their employment security/prospects within a system that even Profs. Steinhardt and Penrose have effectively admitted has been promulgating ill-conceived and just plain ill-logical concepts and beliefs in lieu of actual real scientific concepts and hypotheses. Learn from history, mate; before it is too late for you. Good luck. :)

6 hours ago
^^^^^Shut up, you clown.

6 hours ago

Get a grip.


I've got a grip, don't go throwing questions about "conspiracy theory" at me so blithely. I suppose you've seen too many comments by people who do think such things are involved.

No, it's just that while "suspect" is used, and reference to future work, there doesn't seem to be any doubt or question that perhaps one data point -- the one that, in contrast to a number of previous ones, "may provide an answer to one of the conundrums facing astronomers," may be too little to go on to confidently state "there was between two and six times more mass hiding in the disc than previous observations could measure." As you say it depends on the ratio "estimated elsewhere, and simply extrapolated to this system" -- So on top of an estimate you have an extrapolation, which provides a highly desired result.

And I'm only asking, can we rule out, using the limited data, the possibility that this molecule is NOT so rare under the observed conditions?

6 hours ago
@Castrogiovanni.
^^^^^Shut up, you clown.
Mate, that's a bit rich, isn't it? Coming as it does from someone who has been running scared from my straightforward challenge to you re 'exotic' DM; in thread...

https://phys.org/...kes.html

...and I quote:
I only have to point to the direct-accretion/collapse scenarios in these articles; then point out that massive BHs and galaxies have been observed in the early universe only a few hundred million years after (alleged) Big Bang; and that IF there were 'exotic' DM (ie, non-EM-interacting; as opposed to the 'ordinary' EM-interacting matter we are increasingly finding all over the place now) THEN LOGICALLY and PHYSICALLY ALL of that 'exotic' DM should have gone straight into those BHs which formed when density was high and no EM-backreaction etc dynamics would be available to delay/eject that 'exotic' DM away from those BHs.
Your failure to refute that says it all, mate.

5 hours ago
@OlDreamerDavid, your response to @Iseeker appears to be a non-sequitur. ... previously undetectable ordinary matter... erroneous due to basing such "ruling out" on patently simplistic assumptions ... ordinary matter not being detected before... Can you see now how your response to @Iseeker is non-sequitur in the context of this discovery? :)


I don't think you fully understand the meaning of non-sequitur. Or you are simply ignorant of the true reason why ordinary matter has been ruled out and can't think of any possibilities other than "not enough has been detected" -- which would NOT "rule it out."

No, it's been ruled out because, if there were enough to account for everything that DM is supposed to, there would be other, very obvious differences in what we do observe. Now, it's quite possible that DM is being used to explain things that have very different explanations, but that's another matter and would require a massive alteration of the Standard Model.

5 hours ago
@OlDreamerDavid.
I don't think you fully understand the meaning of non-sequitur. Or you are simply ignorant of the true reason why ordinary matter has been ruled out and can't think of any possibilities other than "not enough has been detected" -- which would NOT "rule it out."

...if there were enough [ordinary matter] to account for everything that DM is supposed to, there would be other, very obvious differences in what we do observe. ...
It means "does not follow logically". In this context your response ignored the point that newfound ordinary matter is explaining the 'apparent gravitational anomalies' which earlier observers could not find enough ordinary 'visible' matter to explain at the time. And FYI, sufficient 'previously dark' ordinary matter (now being increasingly found) can explain all the effects erroneously attributed to 'exotic' DM.

ps: what exactly do you imply?...by:
there would be other, very obvious differences in what we do observe
Thanks. :)

5 hours ago
pps @OlDreamerDavid.

While you're at it, mate, can you read my last post to @Castrogiovanni re the 'exotic' DM situation when it comes to it not being able to count on Electro-Magnetic properties/interactions which would have prevented all of it going straight into BHs long before now IF they were not subject to Electro-Magnetic phenomena such as that which affects/redirects ordinary matter accreting around and being re-directed by jets and winds etc away from BHs? You see the point, I trust? @Castrogivanni et al have squibbed addressing that point in the other thread I linked to in that post above. Perhaps you could help them by explaining/refuting that point for them? :)

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