High powered telescopes observing a distant young hot star, called V1247 Orionis, provided scientists with interesting clues to answer one of astronomy’s biggest question of how planets form.
The Atacama Large Millitre Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile has been monitoring the star, which is found in the background of Orion’s Belt. It is surrounded by a large disc of gas and dust, similar to other young, hot stars in space. Scientists have long believed these discs to be intimately bound up with the process of forming a planet, however, this is not well understood.
Dust found at the outer edges of the disc is likely to drift away into space, as its inner areas have been observed to be subjected to drag from the surrounding gas. This makes it tend to fall inward into the star in a process which called a “radial drift.”
But a new study led by Stefan Kraus from the University of Exeter analyzed data gathered from ALMA and noticed a large anomaly in the composition of the disc. The images showed that a clear and wide division can be seen, which sets apart an internal ring close to the start and an outer arc that is not as well defined.
In the new study, which appeared in Astrophysical Journal Letters, astronomers argue that the section in between, showing a dark loop, might be evidence of a planetary formation. According to Kraus, the dark strip is likely a vortex. As the planet grows over millions of years, its moving mass generated areas of high pressure around it.
He also adds that in the space between the disc, the vortex functions to protect dust from the drag inward of the star as well as the pull out into space – both of which allow particles to form together, thereby forming a proto-planet.