These mysterious flickering glare moving around the stars defies explanation

These mysterious flickering glare moving around the stars defies explanation

Studying the planets that form in a large dust disk surrounding new stars, scientists are confronted with a surprise: swift, wavy arcs moving across the entire disk, like the movements of waves on the surface of the water.

A team of scientists first discovered 5 structures in data obtained from the Very Large Telescope from the European Southern Observatory in Chile in the process of researching “fragments” and pieces of disks that may be signs of planets forming around young stars.

When the researchers returned to the images taken from the Hubble Space Telescope in 2010 and 2011, they managed to find the same unusual formations - but in a new place. A new video of the mysterious "ripple" shows an unexplored feature from the observations of scientists at the European Southern Observatory.

“Our observations were unexpected,” said Antony, a researcher at the Paris Observatory in France and lead author of the work, in a statement. “Pictures taken using a high-contrast adaptive optics system designed to discover and study exoplanets (HUBBLE’s SPHERE) show some unexplainable disk formations that have an arched or wavy structure that has never been studied before.”

By comparing previously taken pictures of the stars from Hubble, the team discovered that the strange “ripples” was moving incredibly fast.

The researchers noted the inexplicable, rapidly moving “ripples” around the dust cloud surrounding the new star AU Microscopii. Pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope from the European Southern Observatory show the presence of this wave-like movement for 4 years. The highest point in the picture falls short of the length of the orbit of Neptune around the sun. “We studied Hubble images from beginning to end again and we have enough information to describe the movements of these mysterious structures over a four-year period,” said Christian Thalmann, a member of the team at Zurich Swiss High School of Switzerland. “In the process, we discovered that these arcs are moving away from their star at a speed of 40,000 km / h!”

The red dwarf AU Microscopii (abbreviated AU Mic), is located 32 light years from Earth and its weight is half the mass of the Sun. Because of the huge mass, uneven dust disk, which is almost edge-turned to the earth, researchers continue to carefully examine the stars in order to detect planets originating from dust (called fluffy, “pile-dry” proof of planetary precursors in 2007).

The new star AU Microscopii, nicknamed AU Mic, can be found in the constellation Microscope.

Newly discovered structures are moving at terrifying speed. Extreme ones move faster, and at least three of them can reach such speed that they are able to overcome the gravitational pull of a star, the official statement says. Wave-like movements are not caused by collisions of large objects (such as asteroids), or changes in the gravity of stars, according to the researchers.

“One of the explanations for this unusual structure is associated with flashes on the stars,” explains co-author of the works of Glen Schneider from the Steward Observatory in Arizona. “AU Mic - a star with high flare activity - often emits huge and uncontrolled energy flows from the surface or near-surface layers.” “One of these flashes may have had some effect on one of the planets - subject to the presence of planets there - for example, by tearing out some of the matter that now spreads through a disk accelerated by flash power,” says Schneider.

Further developments - to continue the study, the observations will be continued with the help of a very large telescope and other instruments that will allow to find out what caused the undulating movement. It is intended to use the Atakam Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Grid in Chile, for example, to monitor the movement of gas in the system.

Researchers may have to combine measurements from different observation positions to get to the bottom of the “ripple”.

“Such cases as with AU Mic, in which the disk can be examined in detail, but not a single planet is seen, are likely to remain more common than cases where you can directly examine the planets,” wrote Marshall Perrin, researcher at the Maryland Space Research Institute, which was not associated with these studies.

“Fortunately for astronomers that circumstellar disks still keep secrets, such as the fast-moving dust formations of the AU Mic.”

New research was described on October 7 in the journal “Nature”.

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