Astronomers observed a unique stage in the planetary system’s evolution, during which gaseous carbon monoxide moved away from the star system by 400 light-years. This discovery provides an opportunity to study how our own solar system developed.
Astronomers have discovered a rapidly moving carbon monoxide gas moving away from a small young star. This is a unique stage in the planetary system’s evolution that can provide insight into how our own solar system developed. However, it is still unclear how the gas is released so quickly. A group of researchers from the University of Cambridge believes that gas may be formed from icy comets evaporating in the star’s asteroid belt.
The entire process was observed by astronomers using a complex radio telescope located in the Chilean Atacama Desert (ALMA) as part of a survey of young “class III” stars. Some of these stars are surrounded by debris disks believed to have formed from collisions of comets, asteroids, and other solid objects. Remnants of dust and debris from these collisions absorb light from their central stars and re-emit that energy in a faint glow that can be studied with ALMA.
During the survey, a faint dusty disk of low mass was found in the considered star NO Lup, which makes up about 70% of our Sun’s mass, but it was the only class III star that emitted carbon monoxide. NO Lup is more advanced, and it may have lost this primordial gas after the planets formed.
Even our discovery of a carbon monoxide leak is surprising, as ALMA has not previously captured images of other young stars of this type. But when we looked closely, we found something even more unusual the gas was far from the star and was moving much faster than expected.
Joshua Lovell, a Ph.D. student at the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy
Further analysis showed that gas could form during collisions between asteroids or during periods of sublimation (transitions from solid to gaseous phase), as well as on the surface of stellar comets, which are expected to have vast reserves of carbon monoxide ice.
The study of this star, according to astronomers, sheds light on what physical processes form planetary systems soon after their birth.