Hubble finds a new Jupiter-like planet forming in an unusual way: NASA

What is the News?

The Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a Jupiter-like protoplanet forming through a process that researchers have described as intense and violent.

What is the Jupiter-like protoplanet formed?

The newly forming planet captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is called AB Aurigae b.

It is embedded in a protoplanetary disk with distinct spiral structures swirling around and surrounding a young star that is estimated to be about 2 million years old. 

This protoplanet is about the same age our solar system was when planet formation was underway. It is also 531 light-years away from our sun.

Further, this protoplanet is probably around nine times the size of Jupiter and orbits its host star at a distance of 8.6 billion miles, over two times the distance between Sun and Pluto.

What are Protoplanets?

Protoplanets are small celestial objects that are the size of a moon or a bit bigger. They are small planets, like an even smaller version of a dwarf planet. 

Astronomers believe that these objects form during the creation of a solar system.

What is the significance of this discovery?

According to NASA, this discovery supports a long-debated theory called “disk instability,” which tries to explain how planets similar to Jupiter are formed.

What is Disk Instability Theory?

According to this theory, matter slowly moves inwards in this disc as dust particles grow into centimetre-sized pebbles. 

This is seen as the first step towards the formation of kilometre-sized planetesimals that eventually come together to form planets.

Source: This post is based on the article “Hubble finds a new Jupiter-like planet forming in an unusual way: NASA” published in Indian Express on 7th April 2022.

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