Liam Siegal 3/26/15
A young star known as Beta Pictoris is around 20 million years old and estimated to live for billions of years. It is surrounded by plane filled with debris where planets form. It is around 63 light years from Earth and has a potential to have a new planetary system form around it. What catches the eyes of the astronomers how close this planetary system is because it becomes an easier area pinpoint and further study the formation of planets since we can receive in depth details. Currently it has one planet called Beta Pictoris b, which has an orbit that is 25% bigger than saturn’s orbit. Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile set new light on the mysterious carbon monoxide gas. All of the primordial gas should be sucked into the star or later become an orbiting gas giant after 10 million years meaning it shouldn't interfere much with the study of the monoxide gas since this telescope can detect the gas emissions. What was stunning for the researchers was that the gas was between 50-160 AUs from the sun and surrounded the planet still exist because it should have been broken up within a century or two by ultraviolet light. The gas weighs only a third of the moon’s mass, or a sixth of all the water on Earth and has a large clump around 85 AUs from the sun. But it only gets better, the gas seems to be relatively new within the last 600 years making astronomers think this gas being replenished or was recently released. This is believed to have occurred by comets colliding since they carry gas in them or smaller particles colliding into gasses. As for the huge collection of gas at 85 AU, they believe that there may have been a massive collision to cause that much gas or a planet that’s causing comets near it to collide. To maintain the gas in the sun’s orbit, its estimated that one comet must collide every five minutes, or have two mars sized comets collide with each other.
This article is important to astronomers since we can observe the formation of planets. Even though its a very slow process, every event we can capture helps to explain how the debris formed into planets and to answer questions how did water and life form on the planets that are similar to earth. Astronomers are also exploring for new planets that can be suitable for life and want to learn of new sorts of life forms. At this point we do know that this gas is a side product of the collisions and we can assume it occurred in our solar system as well, but we are also now asking how did this impact the solar system. This study is really important because it shows how chaotic the formation of a planetary system is and shines new light on how our solar system came to being.
The article is strong in describing what they are studying which is the gas and tracking its patterns. They have been able to formulate 2 strong and well supported theories of why the gas still exist. As much as you get the idea of what they are doing I still asked what exactly would this research be used for in the future or is it being used to support a theory in the past. That something I want to know, whats its relevance it plays to modern society today and why is it important to learn about. I would also have liked to know how this played a part in effecting the planetary system or what they hope to find out.
Hall, Shannon. "A Chaotic Planet-Forming Disk." Sky & Telescope. N.p., 6 Mar. 2014. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.skyandtelescope.com%2Fastronomy-news%2Fa-chaotic-planet-forming-disk%2F>.