Occasionally, science comes together beautifully for a discovery — and sometimes this happens for more than one team at once! Today we explore how two independent collaborations of scientists simultaneously found the very first kinematic evidence for young planets forming in a protoplanetary disk. Though they explored the same disk, the two teams in fact discovered different planets.
Evidence for Planets
ALMA’s view of the dust in the protoplanetary disk surrounding the young star HD 163296. Today’s studies explore not the dust, but the gas of this disk. [ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); A. Isella; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]Over the past three decades, we’ve detected around 4,000 fully formed exoplanets. Much more elusive, however, are the young planets still in the early stages of formation; only a handful of these have been discovered. More observations of early-stage exoplanets are needed in order to understand how these worlds are born in dusty protoplanetary-disk environments, how they grow their atmospheres, and how they evolve.
Recent observations by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have produced stunning images of protoplanetary disks. The unprecedented resolution of these images reveals substructure in the form of gaps and rings, hinting at the presence of planets that orbit within the disk ...