A new study that was published this month in the Astrophysical Journal Letters reports the discovery of four huge planets that were spotted around a very young star. This is the first time when something like this has been observed.
What do we know about these celestial bodies
The star is known as CI Tau and lies approximately 500 light-years away from our planet. It was already known to host one planet, called CI Tau b, which is about 10 times larger than Jupiter and revolves around its star every nine Earth days. CI Tau b was the first “hot Jupiter” to have ever been detected around such a young star. CI Tau is only 2 million years old it still has a protoplanetary disk surrounding it.
A team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), which is a network of radio telescopes in the Atacama Desert in Chile, in order to look at the star and its disk. ALMA identified three more gaps in the disk, at the following distances: 13, 39 and 100 astronomical units from CI Tau.
The three newly discovered planets
The planets that were spotted by the team of researchers are also quite massive. The new report suggests that the innermost of the three is about as big as Jupiter and the other two have a similar mass to Saturn. The members of the team said that astronomers never detected four gas-massive planets revolving around such a young star before. The researchers added that even the orbital range, which refers to the fact that the outermost planet lies around 1,000 times farther from the star than the innermost planet does, is also extreme.
At the moment, it is not clear how the two outermost planets managed to come into existence. Another mystery is how did CI Tau b came to have such a super-tight orbit and if its sibling planets had anything to do with this. We’ll have to wait for more answers.