Dutch researchers from Leiden University led an international team of astronomers which has discovered a brand new planet.
Astronomers found this mysterious companion in a binary star system thanks to an infrared image of the CS Cha binary. However, for a better observation, they passed the image under special polarization filters.
To study this object better, researchers used SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet Research Study). It’s a European telescope which lies on the European Southern Observatory. SPHERE can directly image exoplanets and dust disks by capturing reflected polarised light.
However, scientists might use the ALMA telescope to better observe the CS Cha binary star and its baby neighbor.
The Brand New Planet
Astronomers say this planet is still forming while the planet already has its own disk of dust.
“The most exciting part is that the light of the companion is highly polarised,” said Christian Ginski, lead author of a paper describing the discovery. “Such a preference in the direction of polarisation usually occurs when light is scattered along the way. We suspect that the companion is surrounded by his own dust disc.”
The “tricky part,” he added, “is that the disc blocks a large part of the light and that is why we can hardly determine the mass of the companion. So it could be a brown dwarf but also a super-Jupiter in his toddler years. The classical planet-forming-models can’t help us.”
The companion orbits the binary system, CS Cha, some 538 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Chamaeleon.
After the discovery of the mysterious object, Ginski and his team immediately went back through the archives. Thus, finding a much fainter version in photos taken 19 years ago by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Thumbnail image: You can see the super-sized exoplanet – or a small brown dwarf – to the right of an over-exposed binary star system embedded in a cloud of dust. Credit: C. Ginski/G.A. Muro Arena