About 32 light-years away from Earth, virtually in our backyard, there is a dramatic young star called AU microscopy or AU Mike for short. This star is only 20 to 30 million years old. It may sound ancient, but according to the value of the stars it is childish – for reference, our sun is one and a half times more.
One of the dramatic events orbiting this baby star, U Mike B, was recently discovered using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TSES) and the now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope.
This Neptune-sized planet lasts one year a week on Earth because it orbits very close to the stars. And it is constantly bombarded with flames of fire from the stars due to the strong magnetic fields of the stars. The star is often covered in starspots – similar to sunspots – that explode with flames that bathe the planet in radiation.
The young planet AU Mike B’s presentation is part of NASA’s fun-but-informative Galaxy of Horse poster series of the planet’s star, AU microscopy revealing a powerful, fiery flame that will probably terrify any lifeform trying to build a home here. NASA’s Explanate Exploration Program
Because the star this mic is so young, both it and its planet are still around the dust and gas structure they were made of. Which makes this system an ideal place for observers to observe to understand more about how planetary systems can evolve over time.
“We think ATU Mike B formed far away from the stars and moved inside its current orbit. The planets could interact with gravity with a gas disk or other planet,” said Thomas Berkeley, assistant project scientist at NSA’s TSES in Goddard Space. Flight Center, explained in a statement.
This artist’s idea is that AU microscopy shows the dusty discs around him. Astronomers have studied the system extensively but have recently detected the presence of a planet there. The search provides a laboratory for studying planetary evolution and structure. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center / Chris Smith (USRA)
Berkeley and his team have also compared the system to the planet with the Beta Pictoris Moving Group of other nearby systems. “In contrast, the orbit of Beta Pictoris B does not appear to have shifted very much. Similarly, differences between older systems may say a lot about how planets form and move,” he said.
There may even be many more planets hidden in the orbit of ATU Mike, so scientists will return to this system to study it further and see if they can find them.
Top researcher Peter Plavanchan said, “TSES data has seen an additional candidate transit event, and TSES hopes to tour AU Mike later this year on this extended mission,” said top researcher Peter Plavanchan. “We’re continuing to monitor the star with precise radial velocity measurements, so stay tuned.”
The study is published in the journal Nature.