The scientists who made the first-ever detection of gas in a circumplanetary disk were investigating a young star called AS 209. It is located in the constellation Ophiuchus, roughly 395 light-years from Earth. While making their observations, they noticed a blob of light in what was otherwise an empty gap in the gas seen around the star. That led to the detection of the circumplanetary disk, which is potentially surrounding a Jupiter-mass planet.
An exciting time for astronomy
Scientists are intrigued both by the planet’s distance from its star, as well as the star’s age. The exoplanet is located more 18.59 billion miles (200 astronomical units) away from the host star, which goes against accepter theories regarding planetary formation. What’s more, the host star is believed to be approximately 1.6 million years old, which would make the exoplanet one of the youngest ever detected. More investigation is, of course, needed and the scientists behind the new observations hope to conduct a follow-up investigation using the James Webb Space Telescope. This could help them confirm the existence of the Jupiter-mass exoplanet at the same time as learning more about the surrounding circumplanetary disk.
“The best way to study planet formation is to observe planets while they’re forming. We are living in a very exciting time when this happens thanks to powerful telescopes, such as ALMA and JWST,” said Jaehan Bae, a professor of astronomy at the University of Florida and the lead author of a paper on the findings, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.