Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

"Tadpole Hunters" May Net Forming Planets

Date:
May 24, 2001
Source:
CSIRO Australia
Summary:
Researchers using CSIRO's Australia Telescope have found they can spot the dusty blobs that might be planet systems in the making. This will help astronomers hunt more effectively for these elusive objects, and better estimate how many planet-forming systems are out there.

Researchers using CSIRO's Australia Telescope have found they can spot the dusty blobs that might be planet systems in the making.

This will help astronomers hunt more effectively for these elusive objects, and better estimate how many planet-forming systems are out there.

"We were very surprised that we could see these blobs," says Dr Bärbel Koribalski of CSIRO's Australia Telescope National Facility. "It goes against the predictions."

Planet formation is a common process in the Universe, astronomers think. Planets and their parent stars are born from compact clouds of gas and dust. But very few of these have been found.

In 1994 the Hubble Space Telescope saw blobs of gas and dust in a star-forming region in the constellation of Orion. They were dubbed protoplanetary disks, or 'proplyds' for short. Each is thought to hide a forming star, with material around it that could later form planets.

Last year astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) announced they had found three of the blobs on the outskirts of a region in our Galaxy where many stars are forming. Called NGC 3603, the region lies 20 000 light-years away in the Southern constellation of Carina.

A team led by Anita Mücke of the University of Montreal was independently using CSIRO's Australia Telescope to study massive stars in the same region. Tipped off by the optical studies, they scanned their data for the objects and found them there, unexpectedly bright.

Later, they found a fourth object that had not been picked up in the original HST study.

Apart from the objects in Orion and NGC 3603, only two other proplyds have been found.

There may be many reasons for this apparent scarcity.

Optical telescopes can see proplyds only when they are lying against a brightly lit background.

Many proplyds may have been mistaken for other kinds of objects - in particular, small blobs of glowing hydrogen gas called 'ultracompact HII regions'.

Astronomers detect a lot of those blobs - about four times as many as star-formation theories predict.

"It seems likely that many are really proplyds instead," says Dr Koribalski.

Just as radiation from the Sun blasts material from a comet into a sweeping tail, strong UV radiation from nearby hot young stars shapes the proplyds into sleek tadpole forms.

"We will be able to look through our catalogues of radio sources for tadpole-shaped objects," Dr Koribalski says. "Many of them may turn out to be proplyds. To confirm that, we'd get optical images of them to check that they have that tadpole shape."

The sizes of the proplyds may also make them hard to identify.

"The objects in NGC 3603 are much bigger than the proplyds in Orion. If you put the small Orion proplyds in NGC 3603, which is much further out, you wouldn't be able to see them," says Dr Koribalski.

On the other hand, if we saw the NGC 3603 proplyds closer, at the distance of the Orion nebula, "they wouldn't look like blobs at all - they might look like huge pillars of gas and dust," she adds.

But proplyds may also be genuinely scarce. The blasts of radiation that give them their tadpole shape may also destroy them before they can form planets.

A finding announced on 1 May at the Spring meeting of the American Physical Society notes that 90 percent of the proplyds in Orion will be destroyed in the next several hundred thousand years.

"NGC 3603 has about 100 times the ionizing power of the comparable region in Orion," says Dr Mücke. "The proplyds there may be blasted away by radiation long before they get a chance to form planetary systems."

The members of the observing team are Dr Anita Mücke (University of Montreal), Dr Bärbel Koribalski (CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility), Dr Tony Moffat (University of Montreal), Dr Mike Corcoran (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and Dr Ian Stevens (University of Birmingham, UK).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by CSIRO Australia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

CSIRO Australia. ""Tadpole Hunters" May Net Forming Planets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010524062249.htm>.
CSIRO Australia. (2001, May 24). "Tadpole Hunters" May Net Forming Planets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010524062249.htm
CSIRO Australia. ""Tadpole Hunters" May Net Forming Planets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010524062249.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

French Apple Fans Discover the Apple Watch

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Apple fans in France discover the latest toy, the Apple Watch. The watch comes in two sizes and an array of interchangeable, fashionable wrist straps. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

The Water You Drink Might Be Older Than The Sun

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) — Researchers at the University of Michigan simulated the birth of planets and our sun to determine whether water in the solar system predates the sun. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

First Woman Cosmonaut in 17 Years Blasts Off for ISS

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts, including the first woman cosmonaut in 17 years, blasted off on schedule Friday. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Water Discovery On Small Planet Could Be Key To Earth 2.0

Newsy (Sep. 25, 2014) — Scientists have discovered traces of water in the atmosphere of a distant, Neptune-sized planet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins