Volume 637, May 2020
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||20 May 2020|
Letter to the Editor
Possible evidence of ongoing planet formation in AB Aurigae
A showcase of the SPHERE/ALMA synergy⋆
LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, Université PSL, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
2 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, Université de Bordeaux, CNRS, B18N, Allée Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 33615 Pessac, France
3 Laboratoire CEA, IRFU/DAp, AIM, Université Paris-Saclay, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, CNRS, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
4 Academia Sinica, Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 11F of AS/NTU Astronomy-Mathematics Building, No.1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Rd, Taipei, Taiwan
5 IRAM, 300 rue de la piscine, Domaine Universitaire, 38406 Saint-Martin d’Hères, France
6 Institut d’astrophysique spatiale, CNRS UMR 8617, Université Paris-Sud 11, Bât 121, 91405 Orsay, France
7 Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
8 CNRS, IPAG, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, 38000 Grenoble, France
9 STAR Institute, Université de Liège, Allée du Six Août 19c, 4000 Liège, Belgium
Accepted: 29 April 2020
Context. Planet formation is expected to take place in the first million years of a planetary system through various processes, which remain to be tested through observations.
Aims. With the recent discovery, using ALMA, of two gaseous spiral arms inside the ∼120 au cavity and connected to dusty spirals, the famous protoplanetary disk around AB Aurigae presents a strong incentive for investigating the mechanisms that lead to giant planet formation. A candidate protoplanet located inside a spiral arm has already been claimed in an earlier study based on the same ALMA data.
Methods. We used SPHERE at the Very Large Telescope to perform near-infrared high-contrast imaging of AB Aur in polarized and unpolarized light in order to study the morphology of the disk and search for signs of planet formation.
Results. SPHERE has delivered the deepest images ever obtained for AB Aur in scattered light. Among the many structures that are yet to be understood, we identified not only the inner spiral arms, but we also resolved a feature in the form of a twist in the eastern spiral at a separation of about 30 au. The twist of the spiral is perfectly reproduced with a planet-driven density wave model when projection effects are accounted for. We measured an azimuthal displacement with respect to the counterpart of this feature in the ALMA data, which is consistent with Keplerian motion on a 4 yr baseline. Another point sxce is detected near the edge of the inner ring, which is likely the result of scattering as opposed to the direct emission from a planet photosphere. We tentatively derived mass constraints for these two features.
Conclusions. The twist and its apparent orbital motion could well be the first direct evidence of a connection between a protoplanet candidate and its manifestation as a spiral imprinted in the gas and dust distributions.
Key words: stars: individual: AB Aur / protoplanetary disks / planet-disk interactions / techniques: image processing / techniques: high angular resolution
© A. Boccaletti et al. 2020
Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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