Now, Di Folco and colleagues have used infrared observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the Very Large Telescope, both in Chile, to find a spiral and zero in on one such S-shaped twist around AB Aurigae. The team describes its findings in the May Astronomy & Astrophysics.
“It was amazing,” Di Folco
says. “It was exactly as we were expecting from the theoretical predictions of
The star, about 520
light-years away in the constellation Auriga, is just 4 million years old, about
one one-thousandths of the age of the sun. “It’s really a baby,” Di Folco says.
The potential planet’s exact mass is not known, but it probably would have to be a gas giant like Jupiter rather than a rocky planet like Earth to make such big waves in the disk. And it might not be alone — there’s a hint of another planet near the disk’s outer edge.