ScienceShot: Planets Feed Baby Star Their Leftovers

2 January 2013 1:25 pm

M. Kornmesser/ESO; (inset) Simon Casassus et al.,/ALMA

Open wide, baby star: Here comes a stream of gas. Astronomers observing the still-forming sun HD 142527, located about 450 light-years away, have found that it is being fed by two hidden gas giant planets several times the mass of Jupiter. The planets, which are also still forming, each live in and are obscured by their own river of gas, which flows from a large, misshapen halo on the outer edge of the system (artist's impression, above; image from Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope in Chile, inset). The planets' gravity draws gas from the halo, but much of that gas overshoots them and hurtles across a vast gap toward the star instead, the team reports online today in Nature. HD 142527 is only about 2 million years old, but it's a big newborn, already twice the mass of the sun. These rivers will help it grow even more.

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