June 18, 2024


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JuMBO discovery: New Webb image reveals mysterious planet-like objects in the Orion Nebula

JuMBO discovery: New Webb image reveals mysterious planet-like objects in the Orion Nebula

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New images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope have revealed stunning pairs of planet-like objects in the Orion Nebula that had never been discovered before.

The Orion Nebula, a glowing cloud of dust and gas, is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky and is recognizable as a sword in the constellation Orion. Located 1,300 light-years from Earth, this nebula has long provided astronomers with a wealth of celestial objects to study, including planet-forming disks around young stars and celestial bodies. Brown dwarfsOr objects with a mass ranging between the mass of planets and stars.

Astronomers used a near-infrared webcam, called NIRCam, to capture the Orion Nebula’s mosaic of short and long wavelengths of light, revealing… Unprecedented details And unexpected discoveries.

When astronomers Samuel J. Pearson and Mark J. McCaughrian studied the short-wavelength image of the Orion Nebula, they zoomed in on the Trapezium Cluster, a young star-forming region about a million years old, filled to the brim with thousands of stars. New stars. In addition to stars, scientists have observed brown dwarfs, which are too small to initiate nuclear fusion in their cores to become stars. Brown dwarfs have a mass of less than 7% of the mass of the Sun.

While searching for other isolated low-mass objects, astronomers found something they had never seen before: pairs of planet-like objects between 0.6 and 13 times the mass of Jupiter that appear to challenge some basic astronomical theories.

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Scientists called them Jupiter Mass Binary Objects, or JuMBOs.

“Although some of them are more massive than Jupiter, they will be about the same size and a little larger,” said Persson, an ESA research fellow at the European Space Research and Technology Center in the Netherlands.

Astronomers have found 40 pairs of massive objects and two triple systems, all in wide orbits around each other. Although they exist in pairs, the distance between the objects is usually about 200 astronomical units, or 200 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. It can take anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 years for objects to complete their orbit around each other.

European Space Agency

Five jumbo objects can be seen in this image, in which the fine details of Webb’s larger image of the Trapezium Cluster in the Orion Nebula are zoomed in.

Objects’ Temperatures range from 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit (537 degrees Celsius) to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit (1,260 degrees Celsius), Pearson said. Gaseous objects are young, astronomically speaking, about a million years old. By comparison, our solar system is 4.57 billion years old.

“We are halfway through the life of the Sun, so these objects in Orion are 3-day-old babies.” said Macogrian, senior advisor for science and exploration at the European Space Agency. “They are still quite luminous and warm because the energy they had when they were created still allows them to glow, which is how we can see these things in the first place.”

McCaughrian and Pearson wrote two papers based on their discoveries in the Orion Nebula using the Webb telescope. It was studies Submitted to academic journals for publicationPreliminary results are available on a website called Preprint arXiv. But many questions remain about the megafauna, including how they appeared in the first place.

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Stars form from giant clouds of gas and dust that collapse under gravitational forces. This process continues as disks of gas and dust orbit the stars, giving rise to planets. But there are no existing theories that explain how massive objects form, or why they are found in the Orion Nebula, Macogrian said.

For example, some might consider JuMBOs as such Rogue planetsOr planetary-mass objects that move freely through space without orbiting stars. But many rogue planets begin orbiting stars before they are ejected, and it would be difficult to explain how pairs of them could be ejected at the same time while remaining bound together by gravity.


This web image shows the full scan of the Inner Orion Nebula and the Trapezium Cluster, taken with long wavelengths of light.

“Scientists have been working on theories and models of star and planet formation for decades, but none of them ever predicted that we would find pairs of extremely low-mass objects floating alone in space — and we see a lot of them,” Pearson said. “The main thing we learn from this is that there is something fundamentally wrong with our understanding of planetary formation, or star formation, or both.”

The Orion Nebula is a favorite observation target for astronomers, and as telescopes become larger and more sophisticated, more objects are detected within the nebula, McCaughrian said.

“Even though the things we look at are really faint, they are brighter in the infrared, so (it) “Where you have the best chance of spotting them,” Pearson said via email. “The James Webb Space Telescope is the most powerful infrared telescope ever built, and these observations simply would not be possible with any other telescope.”

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Observations of the nebula scheduled for early 2024 could provide more knowledge about the atmospheric compositions of massive objects, Pearson said. The researchers also want to reveal more details about the objects, including precise measurements of their mass.

Meanwhile, other research focusing on different star-forming regions could reveal whether massive, massive objects exist elsewhere beyond the Orion Nebula.

“The main question is: ‘What?! Where did that come from?’” said Pearson. “It is so unexpected that a lot of future observations and models will be needed to explain it.”