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The mass of the young planet Beta Pictoris b through the astrometric motion of its host star

The mass of the young planet Beta Pictoris b through the astrometric motion of its host star

Publication date: 21 August 2018

Authors: I.A.G. Snellen and A.G.A. Brown

Journal: Nature Astronomy
Year: 2018

Copyright: © 2018 Springer Nature Limited

The young massive Jupiters discovered with high-contrast imaging provide a unique opportunity to study the formation and early evolution of gas giant planets. A key question is to what extent gravitational energy from accreted gas contributes to the internal energy of a newly formed planet. This has led to a range of formation scenarios from ‘cold’ to ‘hot’ start models. For a planet of a given mass, these initial conditions govern its subsequent evolution in luminosity and radius. Except for upper limits from radial velocity studies, disk modelling and dynamical instability arguments, no mass measurements of young planets are yet available to distinguish between these different models. Here, we report on the detection of the astrometric motion of Beta Pictoris, the ~21-Myr-old host star of an archetypical directly imaged gas giant planet, around the system’s centre of mass. Subtracting the highly accurate Hipparcos and Gaia proper motion from the internal 3 yr Hipparcos astrometric data reveals the reflex motion of the star, giving a model-independent planet mass of 11 ± 2 Jupiter masses. This is consistent with scenarios in which the planet is formed in a high-entropy state as assumed by hot start models. The ongoing data collection by Gaia will soon lead to mass measurements of other young gas giants and form a great asset to further constrain early-evolution scenarios.

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Last Update: Sep 1, 2019 8:20:21 AM
21-Jan-2021 02:20 UT

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