All planetary systems should be similar to the solar system, astrophysicists say

A study by an international group of planetary scientists showed that in the absence of significant external influences

the evolution of protoplanetary systems proceeds in the same way. The distribution of the mass of planetary disks, as scientists have established, depends only on the age of the star.

Planetary scientists have studied a large and well-knowna region of disc-shaped young stars, the Orion A cloud, located at a distance of about 1350 light-years from Earth. In this cluster, scientists were able to identify 870 protoplanetary disks near young stars that were suitable for research. Since all the disks belong to the same cloud, the researchers expected only minor effects of chemical and temporal changes in the cloud.

Scientists used wavelength analysis to estimatethe age of protoplanetary systems, and to measure the mass of the disk, the ALMA telescope located on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The researchers observed each disk at a wavelength of about 1.2 mm. As the authors of the paper note, cold disks are very bright in this spectral range, while the contribution of central stars is negligible.

Artistic depiction of a typical protoplanetary disk. Source: MPIA

As a result of the study, planetary scientists discoveredsmall variations in the distribution of disk masses between the studied planets, but all of them are explained by the age of the system. Scientists emphasize that, within the margin of error, groups of planet-forming disks of the same age have the same mass distribution.

We believe that our study shows thatfor at least the next thousand or so light-years, all planet-forming disk groups have the same mass distribution at a given age. And they seem to develop more or less the same way.

Zirk van Terwisga, co-author of the study from the Institute for Astronomy of the Max Planck Society

Scientists believe that this discovery suggests that all planetary systems must be surprisingly similar to each other.

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