Aarhus Universitets segl

New center article - Liv Hornekær

Title: Radiation from massive stars shapes planetary systems

Observational photo
The inner region of the Orion Nebula as seen by the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam instrument, and a zoom in on the protoplanetary disc d203-506. © NASA, ESA, CSA, PDRs4All ERS Team; graphical processing S. Fuenmayor

Radiation from massive stars shapes planetary systems



How do planetary systems such as the Solar System form? To find out, the PDRs4All international research team studied a stellar nursery, the Orion Nebula, using the James Webb Space Telescope. By observing a protoplanetary disc named d203-506, they have discovered the key role played by massive stars in the formation of such nascent planetary systems.

These stars, which are around 10 times more massive, and more importantly 100,000 times more luminous than the Sun, expose any planets forming in such systems nearby to very intense ultraviolet radiation. Depending on the mass of the star at the centre of the planetary system, this radiation can either help planets to form, or alternatively prevent them from doing so by dispersing their matter. In the Orion Nebula, the scientists found that, due to the intense irradiation from massive stars, a Jupiter-like planet would not be able to form in the planetary system d203-506.

This paper, which appeared on the front page of the journal Science on 1st March, 2024, shows with unprecedented precision the decisive role played by massive stars in shaping planetary systems, and opens up new perspectives on how such systems form.


Article link: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.adh2861