Tech & Science Stars’ Disk Debris May Hint At Presence Of Giant Exoplanets

17:36  12 october  2017
17:36  12 october  2017 Source:   International Business Times

NASA study will help identify potentially habitable planets

  NASA study will help identify potentially habitable planets Stars must emit just enough near-infrared light to prevent the loss of oceans.For the foreseeable future, astronomers will be scanning red dwarf stars for habitable planets, rather than other types like our sun. That's because they're easier to find and small enough that the wobble of small, Earth-like planets is detectable. On top of that, the amount of light dip is noticeable when a planet passes in front, and scientists can detect the composition of its atmosphere based on how much starlight it absorbs.

These two systems are only the tip of the iceberg, as many more such stars have been studied, all of which show a wide variety of disk structures and hint at the presence of planets hidden behind the dust. My research interests span the fields of exoplanet and debris disk detection.

Stars that have debris disk around them are nine times more likely to host giant planets around This artist's rendering shows a giant exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust. The presence of two belts in a stellar system is commonplace in the galaxy, Meshkat and Mawet found.

This artist's rendering shows a giant exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust.  © Provided by IBT US This artist's rendering shows a giant exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust.  Stars that have debris disk around them are nine times more likely to host giant planets around them than stars that don’t have a disk orbiting them, a new study has found. It could make it easier for exoplanet hunters to find new large planets outside the solar system.

These giant exoplanets would be far bigger than any planet in our solar system, between five and 20 times the mass of Jupiter, and would be located anywhere between 10 and 1,000 AU (one astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and Earth, almost 93 million miles) from their parent stars, according to the study which has been accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal.

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Among the planned imaging surveys of exoplanets and disks with next generation instrumentation It is encouraging that recent RV results with the longest time spans hint at a major giant planet On the other hand, the presence of debris dust around main sequence stars provides indirect evidence that

A new study finds that giant exoplanets that orbit far from their stars are more likely to be found around young stars that have a disk of dust and debris In a different scenario, the presence of two dust belts in a single debris disk suggests there are likely more planets in the system whose gravity

“Our research is important for how future missions will plan which stars to observe. Many planets that have been found through direct imaging have been in systems that had debris disks, and now we know the dust could be indicators of undiscovered worlds,” Tiffany Meshkat, lead author of the study and assistant research scientist at IPAC/Caltech in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Wednesday on NASA’s website.

Meshkat worked on this study when she was a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.

The study provides strong evidence that giant planets keep the material that forms debris disks in check. The researchers did not determine why this happens, but speculate the phenomenon could be caused by the effect of gravity exhibited by the giant planets. The massive force they would exert on planetesimals — small bodies that could merge to form planets in the relatively early stages of a stellar system — would make them collide violently, turning into debris around the star instead of becoming planets in their own right.

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  How Are Planets Made? Scientists Get Closer to Answer The key is in how rings of dust around young stars behave.They know that young stars are surrounded by huge disks of dust and gas, and many researchers believe that, gradually, this material either drifts away or comes together to form into planets and asteroids.

Stars with disks of debris around them might be good targets to search for Earth-like planets, researchers say. Recommended for you. Giant exoplanet hunters: Look for debris disks .

A new study finds that giant exoplanets that orbit far from their stars are more likely to be found around young stars that have a disk of dust and debris than those without disks .

“It’s possible we don’t find small planets in these systems because, early on, these massive bodies destroyed the building blocks of rocky planets, sending them smashing into each other at high speeds instead of gently combining,” study co-author Dimitri Mawet, a Caltech associate professor of astronomy and a JPL senior research scientist, said in the statement.

The giant planets in our solar system have also led to the formation of two debris “belts” — the Jupiter-influenced main asteroid belt between the gas giant and Mars, and the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune which is shaped by the ice giant.

The presence of two belts in a stellar system is commonplace in the galaxy, Meshkat and Mawet found. But while our solar system is currently about 4.5 billion years old, all the systems studied by the researchers were much younger, between a few million to a billion years old. That also explains why those systems contain a lot more dust and debris compared to ours.

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For the study, the researchers first took data for 130 single-star systems with debris disks detected by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile were use to scan the 30 systems of those 130 that hadn’t already been scanned for exoplanets, but no new planets were discovered. This entire data was compared with data for 277 other stars that do not seem to have debris disks.

The statistical probability of nine to one, in favor of systems with debris disks, to find exoplanets was calculated by Caltech graduate student Marta Bryan.

Karl Stapelfeldt of JPL, chief scientist of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Office and study co-author, said: “By showing astronomers where future missions such as NASA's James Webb Space Telescope have their best chance to find giant exoplanets, this research paves the way to future discoveries.”

Titled “A Direct Imaging Survey of Spitzer detected debris disks: Occurrence of giant planets in dusty systems,” the study is available on the preprint server arXiv.

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