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Rocky planets can form in extreme environments: Study
Using the James Webb Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers have provided the first evidence of water and other molecules in the highly irradiated inner, rocky-planet-forming regions of a disk in one of the most extreme environments in our galaxy.
New Delhi: Using the James Webb Space Telescope, an international team of astronomers have provided the first evidence of water and other molecules in the highly irradiated inner, rocky-planet-forming regions of a disk in one of the most extreme environments in our galaxy.
The findings, published in The Astrophysical Journal, suggest that the conditions for terrestrial planet formation can occur in a possiblY broader range of environments than previously thought.
These are the first results from the eXtreme Ultraviolet Environments (XUE) James Webb Space Telescope programme, which focuses on the characterisation of planet-forming disks (vast, spinning clouds of gas, dust, and chunks of rock where planets form and evolve) in massive star-forming regions.
The XUE programme targets a total of 15 disks in three areas of the Lobster Nebula (also known as NGC 6357), a large emission nebula roughly 5,500 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Scorpius.
The Lobster Nebula is one of the youngest and closest massive star-formation complexes, and is host to some of the most massive stars in our galaxy.
Due to its location near several massive stars in NGC 6357, scientists expect XUE 1 to have been constantly exposed to high amounts of ultraviolet radiation throughout its life. However, in this extreme environment the team still detected a range of molecules that are the building blocks for rocky planets.