Contradicting the long-standing idea that large Jupiter-mass planets take a minimum of 10 million years to form, astronomers have just announced the discovery of a giant planet in close orbit around a 2 million-year-old star that still retains a disc of circumstellar gas and dust. CI Tau b is at least eight times larger than Jupiter and 450 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have measured the rotation rate of an extreme exoplanet by observing the varied brightness in its atmosphere. The planet, called 2M1207b, is about four times more massive than Jupiter and is dubbed a “super-Jupiter.” This is the first measurement of the rotation of a massive exoplanet using direct imaging.
Stars are born inside a rotating cloud of interstellar gas and dust. Before finding itself on the star, however, most of the cloud lands onto a circumstellar disc forming around the star. The manner in which the material is transported through the disc onto the star, causing the star to grow in mass, has recently become a major research topic in astrophysics.
Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have discovered never-before-seen moving features within the dusty disc surrounding the young, nearby star AU Microscopii. The fast-moving, wave-like structures are moving at 22,000 miles per hour — fast enough to escape the star’s gravitational pull.