A chest of unknown planets discovered in the Taurus constellation
By observing some young stars in the Taurus constellation, a team of international astronomers identified possible “traces” of developing planets, some of which could are Neptune-sized, around them.
The study, published in the Astrophysical Journal, was conducted by an international team of scientists coordinated by the Peking University, and involved researchers Brunella Nisini and Elisabetta Rigliaco from INAF-National Institute of Astrophysics, and Giuseppe Lodato and Enrico Ragusa from the University of Milan.
By using the ALMA-Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope located in the Atacama desert, Chile, researchers observed 32 young stars in a region of star formation in the Taurus constellation: a vast cloud of gas and dust 450 light-years from Earth. In this area, researchers discovered that 12 stars showed rings separated by gaps that researchers interpreted as traces of the presence of nascent planets. According to researchers, the observation of the morphology of these formations could be used as a new method to detect the presence of planets around young stars.
For this study, Italian researchers from INAF used the grant of the PRIN-INAF 2016 project The Cradle of Life - GENESIS-SKA (General Conditions in Early Planetary Systems for the rise of life with SKA).