A Neptune-sized transiting planet closely orbiting a 5–10-million-year-old star
Nature 534, 7609 (2016). doi:10.1038/nature18293
Authors: Trevor J. David, Lynne A. Hillenbrand, Erik A. Petigura, John M. Carpenter, Ian J. M. Crossfield, Sasha Hinkley, David R. Ciardi, Andrew W. Howard, Howard T. Isaacson, Ann Marie Cody, Joshua E. Schlieder, Charles A. Beichman & Scott A. Barenfeld
Theories of the formation and early evolution of planetary systems postulate that planets are born in circumstellar disks, and undergo radial migration during and after dissipation of the dust and gas disk from which they formed. The precise ages of meteorites indicate that planetesimals—the building blocks of planets—are produced within the first million years of a star’s life. Fully formed planets are frequently detected on short orbital periods around mature stars. Some theories suggest that the in situ formation of planets close to their host stars is unlikely and that the existence of such planets is therefore evidence of large-scale migration. Other theories posit that planet assembly at small orbital separations may be common. Here we report a newly born, transiting planet orbiting its star with a period of 5.4 days. The planet is 50 per cent larger than Neptune, and its mass is less than 3.6 times that of Jupiter (at 99.7 per cent confidence), with a true mass likely to be similar to that of Neptune. The star is 5–10 million years old and has a tenuous dust disk extending outward from about twice the Earth–Sun separation, in addition to the fully formed planet located at less than one-twentieth of the Earth–Sun separation.
A hot Jupiter orbiting a 2-million-year-old solar-mass T Tauri star
Nature 534, 7609 (2016). doi:10.1038/nature18305
Authors: J. F. Donati, C. Moutou, L. Malo, C. Baruteau, L. Yu, E. Hébrard, G. Hussain, S. Alencar, F. Ménard, J. Bouvier, P. Petit, M. Takami, R. Doyon & A. Collier Cameron
Hot Jupiters are giant Jupiter-like exoplanets that orbit their host stars 100 times more closely than Jupiter orbits the Sun. These planets presumably form in the outer part of the primordial disk from which both the central star and surrounding planets are born, then migrate inwards and yet avoid falling into their host star. It is, however, unclear whether this occurs early in the lives of hot Jupiters, when they are still embedded within protoplanetary disks, or later, once multiple planets are formed and interact. Although numerous hot Jupiters have been detected around mature Sun-like stars, their existence has not yet been firmly demonstrated for young stars, whose magnetic activity is so intense that it overshadows the radial velocity signal that close-in giant planets can induce. Here we report that the radial velocities of the young star V830 Tau exhibit a sine wave of period 4.93 days and semi-amplitude 75 metres per second, detected with a false-alarm probability of less than 0.03 per cent, after filtering out the magnetic activity plaguing the spectra. We find that this signal is unrelated to the 2.741-day rotation period of V830 Tau and we attribute it to the presence of a planet of mass 0.77 times that of Jupiter, orbiting at a distance of 0.057 astronomical units from the host star. Our result demonstrates that hot Jupiters can migrate inwards in less than two million years, probably as a result of planet–disk interactions.
Why ultra-powerful radio bursts are the most perplexing mystery in astronomy
Nature 534, 7609 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/534610a
Author: Elizabeth Gibney
Strange signals are bombarding Earth. But where are they coming from?
NASA’s Juno spacecraft prepares to probe Jupiter’s mysteries
Nature 534, 7609 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/534599a
Author: Alexandra Witze
The mission will peek through the gas giant’s swirling clouds in search of a planetary core.
As we celebrate the Fourth of July by watching dazzling fireworks shows, another kind of fireworks display is taking place in a small, nearby galaxy.
Pancake-shaped clouds not only appear in the children's book "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," but also 3 billion miles away on the gaseous planet Neptune. When they appeared in July 2015, witnessed by amateur astronomers and the largest telescopes, scientists suspected that these clouds were bright companions to an unseen, dark vortex. The dark vortex is a high-pressure system where the flow of ambient air is perturbed and diverted upward over the vortex. This forms huge, lens-shaped clouds, that resemble clouds that sometimes form over mountains on Earth.
LIGO detects whispers of another black-hole merger
Nature 534, 7608 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/nature.2016.20093
Author: Davide Castelvecchi
After historic first discovery last September, twin observatories detected gravitational waves again on Boxing Day.
The first gravitational-wave source from the isolated evolution of two stars in the 40–100 solar mass range
Nature 534, 7608 (2016). doi:10.1038/nature18322
Authors: Krzysztof Belczynski, Daniel E. Holz, Tomasz Bulik & Richard O’Shaughnessy
The merger of two massive (about 30 solar masses) black holes has been detected in gravitational waves. This discovery validates recent predictions that massive binary black holes would constitute the first detection. Previous calculations, however, have not sampled the relevant binary-black-hole progenitors—massive, low-metallicity binary stars—with sufficient accuracy nor included sufficiently realistic physics to enable robust predictions to better than several orders of magnitude. Here we report high-precision numerical simulations of the formation of binary black holes via the evolution of isolated binary stars, providing a framework within which to interpret the first gravitational-wave source, GW150914, and to predict the properties of subsequent binary-black-hole gravitational-wave events. Our models imply that these events form in an environment in which the metallicity is less than ten per cent of solar metallicity, and involve stars with initial masses of 40–100 solar masses that interact through mass transfer and a common-envelope phase. These progenitor stars probably formed either about 2 billion years or, with a smaller probability, 11 billion years after the Big Bang. Most binary black holes form without supernova explosions, and their spins are nearly unchanged since birth, but do not have to be parallel. The classical field formation of binary black holes we propose, with low natal kicks (the velocity of the black hole at birth) and restricted common-envelope evolution, produces approximately 40 times more binary-black-holes mergers than do dynamical formation channels involving globular clusters; our predicted detection rate of these mergers is comparable to that from homogeneous evolution channels. Our calculations predict detections of about 1,000 black-hole mergers per year with total masses of 20–80 solar masses once second-generation ground-based gravitational-wave observatories reach full sensitivity.
Astrophysics: Recipe for a black-hole merger
Nature 534, 7608 (2016). doi:10.1038/534478a
Authors: J. J. Eldridge
The detection of a gravitational wave was a historic event that heralded a new phase of astronomy. A numerical model of the Universe now allows researchers to tell the story of the black-hole system that caused the wave. See Letter p.512
Giant SKA telescope rattles South African community
Nature 534, 7608 (2016). http://www.nature.com/doifinder/10.1038/534444a
Author: Sarah Wild
Struggle in Northern Cape province highlights a balancing act that scientists leading gigantic projects face.