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Astronomers spy first moon-forming disk around an exoplanet

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 19.2%. 1 min read.

This image, taken with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, shows the PDS 70 system, located nearly 400 light-years away and still in the process of being formed. The system features a star at its centre and at least two planets orbiting it, PDS 70b (not visible in the image) and PDS 70c, surrounded by a circumplanetary disc (the dot to the right of the star). The planets have carved a cavity in the circumstellar disc (the ring-like structure that dominates the image) as they gobbled up material from the disc itself, growing in size. It was during this process that PDS 70c acquired its own circumplanetary disc, which contributes to the growth of the planet and where moons can form.

For the first time, astronomers have found a disk around a Jupiter-like planet outside of our solar system and it's the kind of disk where moons could actively be forming. The planetary system is located 400 light-years from Earth.

(CNN)For the first time, astronomers have found a disk around a Jupiter-like planet outside of our solar system -- the kind of disk where moons could actively be forming.

PDS 70b and PDS 70c, which form a system reminiscent of the Jupiter-Saturn pair, are the only two exoplanets detected so far that are still in the process of being formed," said Miriam Keppler, study coauthor and researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, in a statement.

However, finding disks where these moons could form around exoplanets is an exciting new way of studying these satellites -- and could even help scientists understand more about how our own moon formed.

"In the last two decades, we have discovered planet-forming disks around young stars," said Thomas Henning, study coauthor and Max Planck Institute for Astronomy director, in a statement.

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