18-month twinkle in a forming star suggests the existence of a very young planet

An international team of researchers have found an infrequent variation in the brightness of a forming star. This 18-month recurring twinkle is not only an unexpected phenomenon for scientists, but its repeated behavior suggests the presence of a hidden planet.

This discovery is an early win for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) Transient Survey, just one-and-a-half years into its three-year mandate to monitor eight galactic stellar nurseries for variations in the brightness of forming stars. This novel study is critical to understanding how stars and planets are assembled. The survey is led by Doug Johnstone, Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada and Greg Herczeg, Professor at Peking University (China), and is supported by an international team of astronomers from Canada, China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

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Video of Infrared images of the Serpens region of the galaxy. This shows a blue background, on which appear the locations of forming stars (shown as yellow dots) and the surrounding gas (shown as red clouds).

(On screen: Infrared images of the Serpens region of the galaxy. This shows a blue background, on which appear the locations of forming stars (shown as yellow dots) and the surrounding gas (shown as red clouds). On the right of the screen, text explains: 18-month recurring twinkle in EC53 star reveals a hidden planet. Serpens region of the galaxy, February 2016 – June 2017.

(On screen: Images taken at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in collaboration with
logos of: Kyung Hee University; The Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA)
Peking University.)

(On screen: National Research Council Canada. Canada Wordmark.)

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