Approximately 500 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus is a very strange planetary system CI Tau. Astronomers of the University of Cambridge discovered four huge gas giants at once, comparable to our Jupiter and Saturn. What is strange in it, you ask? The fact is, the star system is very young. Her age is estimated by scientists to be only about 2 million years old. The presence of such a large number of gas giants in such a young system contradicts all the known laws of the cosmos. Scientists have shared their discovery in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The study of the system was carried out using the “Atakam Large Millimeter Range Antenna Array” (ALMA) located in the Chilean Atacama Desert. Scientists have found that the smallest object of the system is comparable to Saturn, and the largest is 11 times larger than Jupiter. In this case, the orbits of each of the planets were located very far from each other. The farthest planet of the system is located a thousand times farther from the star than the closest one to it. According to astronomers, they are faced with such a picture for the first time. For example, Pluto is only 102 times farther from the Sun than Mercury.
The orbital period of the largest and closest to the star of the planet, which scientists call the “hot Jupiter”, is only 9 days. A little farther from the first planet is the second, smaller, the size of Jupiter, then, at long intervals – two gas giants the size of Saturn.
The presence of such a number of planets of this type completely does not fit into cosmological models, according to which gas giants cannot arise near stars, since gravity, radiation and stellar winds prevent the formation of a protoplanetary disk. And yet, scientists note that such objects do occur, but very rarely. They were observed in orbits in about one percent of known stars. The catch is that all these stars were hundreds of times older than CI Tau, and the planets met one thing at a time, and here there are four!
“Models of formation of planets, as a rule, are based on the possibility of the emergence of such types of them that were observed earlier. In this regard, the new discoveries do not necessarily correspond to these models, “- says Keti Clark, a professor at the University of Cambridge.
“For example, planets comparable in size to Saturn are formed like this: first a solid core is formed, then a layer of gas is formed around it,” the scientist adds.
According to Clark, usually these processes are very slow (it is believed that it takes at least 10 million years) because of the large distance from the cosmic body to the parent star.
Scientists can not yet explain how so many gas giants could appear in the age system of only 2 million years, and even “separated” so far from each other. Perhaps further observation, as well as the discovery of similar systems will shed light on this issue.