Scientists led by Nicholas Kurtovich from the Astronomical Institute of the Society. Max Planck in Germany was the first to study in detail how planets are formed around low-mass stars, which are 5 to 10 times lighter than the Sun.
Low-mass stars are usually quite faint, so it is difficult to observe their processes even with powerful telescopes. However, a group of scientists from Germany managed to carry out a similar work: they tracked six protoplanetary disks that surround the newborn stars of very low mass, recently discovered in the constellation Taurus.
All these stars have formed in the last 2-3 million years. Therefore, around them there are still flat disks of gas and dust, inside which planets could theoretically form. Astronomers tried to find them using the ALMA microwave telescope. They observed how dust particles move inside the disks and how their concentration differs.
According to the results of the work, the authors found characteristic rings and dips with a low density of dust and gas in three protoplanetary disks, which usually occur at the last stages of planet formation. According to scientists’ calculations, some of them are comparable in size to Saturn or the small gas giants that astronomers have discovered in the vicinity of larger stars.
We have tested all alternative explanations for our observations, including dust evaporation under the influence of the light of these stars, but the existence of planets remains the most plausible of them.
Nikolas Kurtovich, scientist from the Astronomical Institute of the Society. Max Planck in Germany
At the moment, the authors of the work cannot say for sure the reason for the origin of these structures, but they talk about the speed with which the processes occur. Further, a group of scientists plans to continue observing such objects, to understand how often planets form in red dwarfs.