For the first time, a Moon-forming disc has been discovered, providing astronomers with an understanding of early planetary systems.

Mail Online report specified that such a formation was created from a dusty circle surrounding a gas giant world that's 370 light-years from the Earth, astronomers from the University of Grenoble, France, explained.

The planet, labeled as PDS 70c, is in orbit surrounding what's described as the "very young 5.4-million-year-old" PDS 70 star, which is three quarters the Sun's mass and is still in the process of forming new planets, which include the very new PDS 70c, and sister world PDS 70b.

There is enough debris surrounding PDS 70c, as described by NASA, to generate three moons roughly the same size as the one orbiting the Earth, explained the astronomers.

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Science Times - Moon-Forming Disc Discovered Around Very Young 5.4 Million-Year-Old Jupiter-Like Exoplanet; Astronomers Consider Their Discovery Important
(Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech on Wikimedia Commons)
A gas giant planet is shown to the right of its sun-like star, and all around, the stars of the Beehive cluster shine brightly in the dark.

The Discovery

While each star system is thought to comprise at least a single planet, it is assumed that many planets will have at least a single, although likely multiple, moons. Jupiter, this report specified, encompasses 70 moons and counting.

This discovery is opening a window into the evolution of the universe, as moons all over gas giants are believed to hold more potential for searching for life compared to planets.

Images captured by the Chile-based ALMA observatory exhibit that the moon-forming disc contains a diameter of roughly 100 million miles, approximately the distance of the Sun to the Earth.

The team behind this discovery said there is adequate debris whizzing around to make a maximum of three moons the size of the Earths.

Orbiting at Very Young 5.4 Million-Year-Old Star

The planet is one of the two planets discovered two years ago in the constellation of Centaurus, revolving around the very young 5.4-million-year-old PDS 70 star.

Essentially, PDS 70c, the giant planet, is twice as huge a Jupiter, taking 227 years to complete its host star's single orbit, obtaining its own "circumplanetary disc" where moons can take shape while in their formation.

According to Dr. Benisty, their ALMA observations were acquired at such an attractive resolution; they could clearly identify the disc linked to the planet. More so, added Benisty, they can limit its size for the first time.

Potential Reservoir for the Formation of a Satellite System

The exoplanet has a similar structure to the one which gave rise to Jupiter's 79 moons. Dr. Sean Andrews from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center of Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and co-author of the study, A Circumplanetary Disk around PDS70c, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, said they used the millimeter emission from school dust grains to approximate the amount of mask in the disk.

This then enabled them to determine that it was a potential reservoir for forming a satellite system surrounding PDS 70c and learning more about the moons' formation.

Gas and dust clouds merge into progressively larger bodies through numerous collisions, eventually leading to their birth. However, the precise processes have never been caught in the act until to date.

The European Southern Observatory's Dr. Stefano Facchini, who's also involved in the study, said it remains unclear when, where, and how moons and planets are forming.

Related information about the Moon-forming disc is shown on VideoFromSpace's YouTube video below:


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