Hubble found a massive planet – 9 times larger than Jupiter – formed as a result of a violent process

This is an illustration of a massive, newly formed exoplanet called AB Aurigae b. Researchers have used new and archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Subaru Telescope to confirm that this protoplanet is formed as a result of an intense and brutal process called disk instability. Disk instability is a top-down approach that is very different from the dominant kernel build-up model. In this scenario, the massive disk around the star cools down, and gravity causes the disk to quickly disintegrate into one or more fragments of the planet’s mass. AB Aurigae b is estimated to be about nine times more massive than Jupiter and revolves around its star twice as far as Pluto from our Sun. Author: NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Hubble has found a planet that is formed in an unconventional way

In general, the formation of planets in our universe can be compared to cooking. Just as the “ingredients” for the formation of the planet can change, so can the “cooking method”.

Researchers using AB Aurigae b images of Hubble

The researchers were able to directly detect the new exoplanet AB Aurigae b over a 13-year period using the Hubble Space Telescope (STIS) spectrograph and its near-infrared camera and multi-object spectrograph (NICMOS). In the upper right corner of the image of NICMOS from Hubble, made in 2007, shows AB Aurigae b in the southern position compared to the host star, which is covered by the coronagraph of the instrument. An image taken by STIS in 2021 shows that the protoplanet was moving counterclockwise over time. Credit: Science: NASA, ESA, Thein Curry (Subaru Telescope, Eureka Scientific Inc.); Image processing: Thein Curry (Subaru Telescope, Eureka Scientific Inc.), Alyssa Pegan (STScI)

The data show a violent collapse, responsible for the formation of a protoplanet similar to Jupiter.


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