An unexpected discovery of the James Webb Telescope

Astronomers search for exoplanets forming around young stars using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). A powerful space telescope made an unexpected discovery: in the disk surrounding the protostar SAO 206462, scientists discovered signs of a planet in the process of formation, but it was not the object they expected to see: they found a structure that could be a completely different planet than expected, a star or even A faint and hidden galaxy.


A team of scientists from the University of Michigan in the United States used the tremendous power of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) To observe and analyze a protoplanetary disk surrounding a newborn star called SAO 206462, in the constellation Lupus. Although they expected to find a gas giant planet in the making, they found something completely different that has not yet been identified.

Planets in the making, JWST's new target

Although numerous images of these protoplanetary disks have been previously obtained, so far only two planets in the process of formation have been captured. Advanced tools on board Webb telescope New hope for astronomers: getting images of the planet Planet formation From its inception, it can give you early clues about the ways planets appear and how these developing bodies affect your natal disk.

It is known that planets form in disks of dust and gas called planetesimals Protoplanetary disks, which orbits a central protostar, which is a newborn star and also in the process of formation, during its final assembly. Taking these characteristics into account, SAO 206462 was an ideal candidate: according to scientists' calculations, it would have formed a gas giant planet. Web He can shoot perfectly.

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As often happens in science, the results were not what was expected but it led to another amazing discovery. In three studies recently published in The Astronomical Journal, specialists explained that instead of a huge developing planet, they found a planet Structure is difficult to define: It could be a planetary body completely different from the desired one, or another star or galaxy hidden deep in the universe, almost imperceptible even today.

Three star systems and the same unknown

“Many simulations suggest that the planet we are looking for must be inside the protoplanetary disk, being a massive, large, hot, bright body. But we did not find that. This means that the planet may be much cooler than we thought, Or it may be ambiguous Because of some materials that prevent us from seeing it.” press release Scientist Gabriel Cugno, leader of the research team.

“What we found is a different candidate planet, but we can't say for sure that it is a planet. It could also be A Faint star or galaxy wallpaperWhich tarnishes our image. “Future observations will help us understand exactly what we are seeing,” Cugno added.

As if this were not enough, astronomers repeated the same search in the disks surrounding protostars HL Tau and MWC758. They were also unable to identify the planets that form in these two systems. “The lack of planets detected in the three systems tells us that the objects are either too close to their host stars or too faint to be seen with the James Webb Space Telescope,” said Kevin Wagner, lead author of one of the studies.

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Finally, the scientists highlighted that in each protoplanetary disk they observed with sufficient precision and sensitivity, they were able to estimate large structures that could be explained, in most cases, by the formation of planets interacting with the disk material. However, there are other explanations that do not indicate the existence Giant planets: This could be the case for SAO 206462 and the two other systems studied.

References

JWST/NIRCam imaging of young stellar objects. secondly. Deep constraints on giant planets and exoplanet candidates in the spiral disk around SAO 206462. Gabriel Cugno et al. Astronomical Journal (2024). doi: https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ad1ffc

JWST/NIRCam imaging of young stellar objects. I. Exoplanetary constraints on the spiral disk around MWC 758. Kevin Wagner et al. Astronomical Journal (2024). doi:https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ad11d5

JWST/NIRCam imaging of young stellar objects. Third. Detailed imaging of the nebular environment around the HL Tau disk. Camryn Mullen et al. Astronomical Journal (2024). doi: https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-3881/ad2de9

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