Astrophysicists at the Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands, and the University Of Rochester, USA, have found that the ring system that they see eclipse the very young Sun-like star J1407 is of huge proportions, much bigger and thicker than the ring system of Saturn. The ring system – the first of its kind to be discovered outside our solar system – was found in 2012 by a team led by Rochester’s Eric Mamajek.
A new study of the data, led by Leiden’s Matthew Kenworthy, shows that the ring system comprises of over 30 rings, each of them tens of millions of kilometers in diameter. Furthermore, they discovered gaps in the rings, which point out that satellites (“exomoons”) may have made. The outcomes have been recognized for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.
“The particulars that we see in the light curve are unbelievable. The eclipse continued for several weeks, but you see quick changes on timescales of tens of minutes as a result of fine structures in the rings,” says Kenworthy. “The star is much too far away to perceive the rings directly, but we could make a thorough model based on the quick brightness variations in the star light passing through the ring system. If we could substitute Saturn’s rings with the rings around J1407b, they would be effortlessly observable at night and be many times bigger than the full moon.”
“This planet is much bigger than Jupiter or Saturn, and its ring system is approximately 200 times bigger than Saturn’s rings are today,” said co-author Mamajek, professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of Rochester. “You could think of it as kind of a super Saturn.”
The astrophysicists studied data from the SuperWASP project – a study that is intended to perceive gas giants that move in front of their parent star. In 2012, Mamajek and colleagues at the University of Rochester stated the finding of the young star J1407 and the rare eclipses, and suggested that they were produced by a moon-forming disk around a young giant planet or brown dwarf.
The light curve tells astrophysicists that the diameter of the ring system is approximately 120 million kilometers, more than two hundred times as large as the rings of Saturn. The ring system possibly comprises approximately an Earth’s worth of mass in light-obscuring dust particles.
Mamajek puts into context how much material is confined in these disks and rings. “If you were to powder up the four big Galilean moons of Jupiter into dirt and ice and spread out the material over their trajectories in a ring about Jupiter, the ring would be so dense to light that a distant spectator that observes the ring pass in front of the sun would see a very profound, multi-day eclipse,” Mamajek says. “In the situation of J1407, we see the rings hindering as much as 95% of the light of this young Sun-like star for days, so there is a lot of matter there that could then form satellites.”
In the data the astrophysicists discovered at least one clean gap in the ring construction, which is more clearly distinct in the new model. “One obvious clarification is that a satellite made and imprinted this gap,” says Kenworthy. “The mass of the satellite could be among that of Earth and Mars. The satellite would have an detour period of about two years around J1407b.”
Astrophysicists suppose that the rings will turn out to be thinner in the next several million years and ultimately vanish as satellites form from the matter in the disks.
“The planetary science communal has hypothesized for years that planets like Jupiter and Saturn would have had, at an initial phase, disks about them that then led to the creation of satellites,” Mamajek clarifies. “Though, until we found this object in 2012, no-one had observed such a ring system. This is the first photo of satellite development on million-kilometer scales about a sub stellar entity.”
Astrophysicists approximate that the ringed companion J1407b has a detour period approximately 10 years in length. The mass of J1407b has been problematic to constrain, but it is most possibly in the range of about 10 to 40 Jupiter masses.
The scientists inspire unprofessional astrophysicists to help monitor J1407, which would help perceive the next eclipse of the rings, and oblige the period and mass of the ringed companion. Analysis of J1407 can be informed to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). In the interim the astrophysicists are looking for other photometric studies looking for eclipses by yet to be discovered ring systems.
Source : rochester.edu
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