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An Unusual Gas Giant in a Red Dwarf System

30 Sep 2019, 10:38 UTC
An Unusual Gas Giant in a Red Dwarf System
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The gas giant GJ 3512 b does not particularly stand out at first glance. About 30 light years from the Sun, it orbits its host star in 204 days, discovered by radial velocity methods by the CARMENES collaboration, which is all about finding planets around small stars. But look more deeply and you discover what makes this find provocative. GJ 3512 b turns out to be a gas giant with about half the mass of Jupiter, and small red dwarfs like this one aren’t supposed to host such worlds.
In fact, GJ 3512 b is at least an order of magnitude more massive than what we would expect from current theoretical models, making it an interesting test case for planet formation. Core accretion models assume the gradual agglomeration of material in a circumstellar disk, with small bodies banging into each other and growing over time until their gravity is sufficient to draw in an atmosphere from the surrounding gas. This gas giant defies the model, evidently having formed directly from the disk through gravitational collapse.

Image: Comparison of GJ 3512 to the Solar System and other nearby red-dwarf planetary systems. Planets around solar-mass stars can grow until they start ...

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