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Beyond Earthly Skies

Birth of a Compact Multi-Planet System

26 Jun 2016, 22:00 UTC
Birth of a Compact Multi-Planet System
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Osorio et al. (2016) present the discovery of a miniature protoplanetary disk around the star XZ Tau B. This discovery was made from observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). XZ Tau B is a young red dwarf star estimated to be only ~4.6 million years old. It is located ~450 light years away, and it has ~1.2 times the radius and ~0.37 times the mass of the Sun. The large radius of the star indicates that it is still in the process of contracting to its final radius. The estimated effective temperature of XZ Tau B is 3550 K.The protoplanetary disk around XZ Tau B extends out to ~3.4 AU from the host star. It also has a central cavity extending from the host star out to ~1.3 AU. This central cavity has been attributed to the presence of a compact system of newly-formed planets in orbit around the host star. Such a compact multi-planet system is consistent with observations by NASA's Kepler mission which has revealed that low-mass compact multi-planet systems are relatively common. In these planetary systems, the planets orbit within ~1 AU from their host star and have masses ranging from a fraction to a ...

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