'Little hurricanes' around young stars can help astronomers measure and infant exoplanets

"The team's new technique also uses an indirect form of observation to study exoplanets: Instead of looking for transits, they're searching for unusual formations, such as arcs or clumps, that form in the protoplanetary disk. "Something must be causing these structures to form," Rafikov said. "One of the possible mechanisms for producing these structures — and certainly the most intriguing one — is that dust particles that we see as arcs and clumps are concentrated in the centers of fluid vortices: essentially little hurricanes that can be triggered by a particular instability at the edges of the gaps carved in protoplanetary discs by planets."

My observation. The papers cited indicate these observations and model interpretations could work for fairly large exoplanet masses. https://arxiv.org/abs/2301.01789; "These results can be extended to account for the history of planetary mass accretion if it is known. We apply our calculations to several protoplanetary discs harbouring vortex-like features as revealed by ALMA and set limits of (30−50) M⊕ (for disc aspect ratio of 0.1) on the minimum masses of putative planets that could be responsible for these vortices."

Such postulated exoplanets forming would be much larger than Uranus or Neptune in our solar system.


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