Astronomers Discover New Star That Sheds New Light On Planet Formation


Scientists have discovered a young star right before the end of the decade. The star, which is roughly 40 million years old, was named 49 Ceti. Surprisingly, the star is made up of a massive amount of gas, which further shows how little we know about planet formation. The traditional theories predict that gas should have disappeared by that age.

Astronomers Discover 40 Million Year Old Gaseous Star


New Star Explains Planet Formation

All this while, astronomers believed that planets are formed in gaseous disks called protoplanetary disks around young stars. The dust particles merge to form planets like the Earth and even become the cores of larger planets by accumulating considerable amounts of gas (Jupiter for instance). The gas in these star disks either blow away by radiation from the central star or form into planets.

But in the end, there are disks of dusty debris, called the debris disk surrounding the star, which implies that the formation of the planet has completed. The discovery of the new star throws these conventional theories aside. Advances in radio telescope have shown that several debris disks still carry some amounts of gas.

This, in turn, shows that if the debris disk is around for a long time, the planetary seeds evolve to form giant gaseous planets like Jupiter. The new star further confirms that the gas in the debris disk can change the composition of the planetary system.

New Star Discovery

The discovery is credited to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). "We found atomic carbon gas in the debris disk around 49 Ceti by using more than 100 hours of observations on the ASTE telescope," says astronomer Aya Higuchi from NAOJ. The ASTE telescope is placed in Chile and operated by NAOJ.

Higuchi explains that the carbon gas around the 49 Centi star is 10 times more than the previous estimation. The gas on the new star can be compared to those around the younger stars in the active planet formation phase, the study says. Yet, there is no theory to explain how the massive amount of gas could have persisted for 40 million years.

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