Shadow of the Rings | by Brian Koberlein



27 January 2015

An artist's rendition of the gigantic ring system circling J1407b.
Ron Miller
An artist’s rendition of the large ring system circling J1407b.

In our photo voltaic system, the ring system of Saturn dwarfs all others. Whereas such a big and sophisticated ring system is uncommon for our photo voltaic system, it’s affordable to presume that comparable ring techniques exist all through the cosmos. We all know, for instance, that Saturn’s rings are secure in opposition to issues like meteor impacts, and that they’re seemingly as outdated because the planet itself. Now we all know of no less than one exoplanet with a big and sophisticated ring system.

Brightness of the eclipsed star (red) compared with the ring model (green).
Matthew A. Kenworthy, Eric E. Mamajek
Brightness of the eclipsed star (pink) in contrast
with the ring mannequin (inexperienced).

It’s a planet often known as J1407b, which is a brown dwarf that orbits a younger sunlike star (J1407). In 2007 the star went by means of a sequence of eclipses, the place one thing handed in entrance of it. Earlier research of those eclipses hinted on the existence of a hoop system round J1407b. Because the planet handed close to the star from our perspective, the rings of the planet occulted the star, inflicting it to range in brightness over a interval of greater than 50 days. Now a brand new paper being revealed within the Astrophysical Journal confirms these rings. The brand new work additionally demonstrates that the ring system is complicated, very like Saturn’s rings.

The crew in contrast the occultation knowledge with fashions of ring techniques to find out the essential construction of the rings. They discovered it spans a distance 200 occasions that of Saturn’s rings, and comprises about an Earth-mass of fabric. It even has what seems to be a big hole within the ring system. Such gaps are recognized to type in Saturn’s rings, for instance, when a moon or moons clears its orbital path. If that’s the case for this hole, it might include a moon someplace between the dimensions of Mars and Earth.

The J1407 system is simply about 16 million years outdated, so it’s fairly potential that factor ring system is within the means of forming moons. If that’s the case the rings could regularly diminish because the moon system kinds. For now, it’s the biggest ringed planet we all know.

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