Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



EXO WORLDS
Giant Exoplanet Hunters: Look for Debris Disks
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 17, 2017


This artist's rendering shows a giant exoplanet causing small bodies to collide in a disk of dust.

There's no map showing all the billions of exoplanets hiding in our galaxy - they're so distant and faint compared to their stars, it's hard to find them. Now, astronomers hunting for new worlds have established a possible signpost for giant exoplanets.

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. The study, published in The Astronomical Journal, focused on planets more than five times the mass of Jupiter.

This study is the largest to date of stars with dusty debris disks, and has found the best evidence yet that giant planets are responsible for keeping that material in check.

"Our research is important for how future missions will plan which stars to observe," said Tiffany Meshkat, lead author and assistant research scientist at IPAC/Caltech in Pasadena, California. Meshkat worked on this study as a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

"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."

Astronomers found the likelihood of finding long-period giant planets is nine times greater for stars with debris disks than stars without disks. Caltech graduate student Marta Bryan performed the statistical analysis that determined this result.

Researchers combined data from 130 single-star systems with debris disks detected by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and compared them with 277 stars that do not appear to host disks. The two star groups were between a few million and 1 billion years old.

Of the 130 stars, 100 were previously scanned for exoplanets. As part of this study, researchers followed up on the other 30 using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile. They did not detect any new planets in those 30 systems, but the additional data helped characterize the abundance of planets in systems with disks.

The research does not directly resolve why the giant exoplanets would cause debris disks to form. Study authors suggest the massive gravity of giant planets causes small bodies called planetesimals to collide violently, rather than form proper planets, and remain in orbit as part of a disk.

"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," said co-author Dimitri Mawet, a Caltech associate professor of astronomy and a JPL senior research scientist.

On the other hand, giant exoplanets are easier to detect than rocky planets, and it is possible that there are some in these systems that have not yet been found.

Our own solar system is home to gas giants responsible for making "debris belts" - the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, shaped by Jupiter, and the Kuiper Belt, shaped by Neptune.

Many of the systems Meshkat and Mawet studied also have two belts, but they are also much younger than ours - up to 1 billion years old, compared to our system's present age of 4.5 billion years. The youth of these systems partly explains why they contain much more dust - resulting from the collisions of small bodies - than ours does.

One system discussed in the study is Beta Pictoris, which has been directly imaged from ground-based telescopes. This system has a debris disk, comets and one confirmed exoplanet. In fact, scientists predicted this planet's existence well before it was confirmed, based on the presence and structure of the prominent disk.

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 maintains these belts, as is the case in the HR8799 system of four giant planets.

The gravitational forces of giant planets nudge passing comets inward toward the star, which could mimic the period of our solar system's history about 4 billion years ago known as the Late Heavy Bombardment.

Scientists think that during that period, the migration of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune deflected dust and small bodies into the Kuiper and asteroid belts we see today. When the Sun was young, there would have been a lot more dust in our solar system as well.

EXO WORLDS
The Super-Earth that Came Home for Dinner
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 06, 2017
It might be lingering bashfully on the icy outer edges of our solar system, hiding in the dark, but subtly pulling strings behind the scenes: stretching out the orbits of distant bodies, perhaps even tilting the entire solar system to one side. If a planet is there, it's extremely distant and will stay that way (with no chance - in case you're wondering - of ever colliding with Earth, or b ... read more

Related Links
Exoplanets at NASA
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

EXO WORLDS
Russia launches cargo ship to space station

US spacewalkers install 'new eyes' at space station

NASA May Extend BEAM's Time on the International Space Station

USNO Astronomers Measure New Distances To Nearby Stars

EXO WORLDS
First Four Space Launch System Flight Engines Ready To Rumble

Rocket motor for Ariane 6 and Vega-C is cast for testing

ASPIRE Successfully Launches from NASA Wallops

RS-25 Engines Ready for Maiden Flight of NASA's Space Launch System

EXO WORLDS
What NASA's simulated missions tell us about the need for Martian law

Debate over Mars exploration strategy heats up in astrobiology journal

Opportunity Feeling the Chemistry

Mimetic Martian water is under pressure

EXO WORLDS
China launches three satellites

Mars probe to carry 13 types of payload on 2020 mission

UN official commends China's role in space cooperation

China's cargo spacecraft separates from Tiangong-2 space lab

EXO WORLDS
Eutelsat's Airbus-built full electric EUTELSAT 172B satellite reaches geostationary orbit

Lockheed Martin Completes First Flexible Solar Array for LM 2100 Satellite

SpaceX launches 10 satellites for Iridium mobile network

GomSpace and Luxembourg to develop space activities in the Grand Duchy

EXO WORLDS
Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

Oculus unveils standalone virtual reality headset

Microlasers get a performance boost from a bit of gold

Students, researchers turn algae into renewable flip-flops

EXO WORLDS
Biomarker Found In Space Complicates Search For Life On Exoplanets

Are Self-Replicating Starships Practical

New telescope attachment allows ground-based observations of new worlds

The Super-Earth that Came Home for Dinner

EXO WORLDS
Ring around a dwarf planet detected

Helicopter test for Jupiter icy moons radar

Solving the Mystery of Pluto's Giant Blades of Ice

Global Aerospace Corporation to present Pluto lander concept to NASA




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement