The moon, Earth’s only natural satellite, is 384,402 km from the blue planet. Despite the distance, the man was able to walk on the ground. More or less clearly visible in the sky, the moon has not yet revealed all of its secrets. And for good reason, his education remains a mystery. Still, a new discovery could explain how the moon was born.
the origins of the moon soon to be revealed?
The room is full of secrets. It is infinitely revealed to mankind, as studies and research are made possible by increasingly sophisticated instruments. In 2011, the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array, better known as ALMA, came into operation. This huge radio telescope with 66 antennas in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile enables astronomers to observe millimeter waves. And in 2018 ALMA succeeds in discovering PDS 70b, a planet in formation near the star PDS 70 in a system 370 light-years away in the constellation Centaur.
In 2019, astronomers discovered an unprecedented disk of gas and dust around another planet in the system: PDS 70c via the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. By aggregating the information gathered, they estimate that this disc is the origin of the moon formation around the planet. However, with constant observation, this system revealed a fascinating curiosity. Here, too, the researchers succeeded via ALMA, based on new observations, to create a hypothesis about the presence of this disk of matter.
Therefore, according to Myriam Benisty, an astronomer at the University of Grenoble and lead author of a study on the subject published in the Astrophysical Journal Letter, the observations would “form a disk for satellites to form”. Obviously, this hypothesis can only be verified at the end of a long follow-up. Nevertheless, the PDS 70 system is interesting because it is young and its star is only about 5.4 million years old. For comparison: our sun has already blown out its 4.6 billion candles.
This means that PDS 70b and PDS 70c are “the only two exoplanets that have so far been detected that are still in the stage of their formation,” explains the astronomer. Observations that “are very important to prove the theories about the formation of the planets that we have not yet been able to verify”. And for good reason, the disk of matter was sighted around PDS 70 in 2006, but the instruments at the time indicated the presence of at least one planet between the star and the disk.
Since the planets form in dust and gas disks around young stars, the formation of moons could also be observed there. It remains to be seen whether the two gas giants will eventually help astronomers unravel the mystery behind the formation of natural satellites. Ultimately, it is also possible that thanks to this solar system, the origins of our good old moon will be revealed. Answer in the more or less near future, especially since more powerful instruments are necessary now.