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Images of embedded Jovian planet formation at a wide separation around AB Aurigae

Currie, Thayne and Lawson, Kellen and Schneider, Glenn and Lyra, Wladimir and Wisniewski, John and Grady, Carol and Guyon, Olivier and Tamura, Motohide and Kotani, Takayuki and Kawahara, Hajime and Brandt, Timothy and Uyama, Taichi and Muto, Takayuki and Dong, Ruobing and Kudo, Tomoyuki and Hashimoto, Jun and Fukagawa, Misato and Wagner, Kevin and Lozi, Julien and Chilcote, Jeffrey and Tobin, Taylor and Groff, Tyler and Ward-Duong, Kimberly and Januszewski, William and Norris, Barnaby and Tuthill, Peter and van der Marel, Nienke and Sitko, Michael and Deo, Vincent and Vievard, Sebastien and Jovanovic, Nemanja and Martinache, Frantz and Skaf, Nour (2022) Images of embedded Jovian planet formation at a wide separation around AB Aurigae. Nature Astronomy, 6 (6). pp. 751-759. ISSN 2397-3366. doi:10.1038/s41550-022-01634-x.

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Direct images of protoplanets embedded in disks around infant stars provide the key to understanding the formation of gas giant planets such as Jupiter. Using the Subaru Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, we find evidence for a Jovian protoplanet around AB Aurigae orbiting at a wide projected separation (~93 au), probably responsible for multiple planet-induced features in the disk. Its emission is reproducible as reprocessed radiation from an embedded protoplanet. We also identify two structures located at 430–580 au that are candidate sites of planet formation. These data reveal planet formation in the embedded phase and a protoplanet discovery at wide, >50 au separations characteristic of most imaged exoplanets. With at least one clump-like protoplanet and multiple spiral arms, the AB Aur system may also provide the evidence for a long-considered alternative to the canonical model for Jupiter’s formation, namely disk (gravitational) instability.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access Paper ItemSubaru SMOKA archive ItemKeck Observatory archive ItemMilkulski Archive for Space Telescopes ItemCode ItemCode
Currie, Thayne0000-0002-7405-3119
Lawson, Kellen0000-0002-6964-8732
Schneider, Glenn0000-0002-4511-5966
Lyra, Wladimir0000-0002-3768-7542
Wisniewski, John0000-0001-9209-1808
Grady, Carol0000-0001-5440-1879
Guyon, Olivier0000-0002-1097-9908
Tamura, Motohide0000-0002-6510-0681
Kotani, Takayuki0000-0001-6181-3142
Kawahara, Hajime0000-0003-3309-9134
Brandt, Timothy0000-0003-2630-8073
Uyama, Taichi0000-0002-6879-3030
Dong, Ruobing0000-0001-9290-7846
Kudo, Tomoyuki0000-0002-9294-1793
Hashimoto, Jun0000-0002-3053-3575
Fukagawa, Misato0000-0003-1117-9213
Wagner, Kevin0000-0002-4309-6343
Lozi, Julien0000-0002-3047-1845
Chilcote, Jeffrey0000-0001-6305-7272
Tobin, Taylor0000-0001-8103-5499
Groff, Tyler0000-0001-5978-3247
Ward-Duong, Kimberly0000-0002-4479-8291
Januszewski, William0000-0002-3545-1157
Norris, Barnaby0000-0002-8352-7515
Tuthill, Peter0000-0001-7026-6291
van der Marel, Nienke0000-0003-2458-9756
Sitko, Michael0000-0003-1799-1755
Deo, Vincent0000-0003-4514-7906
Vievard, Sebastien0000-0003-4018-2569
Jovanovic, Nemanja0000-0001-5213-6207
Martinache, Frantz0000-0003-1180-4138
Skaf, Nour0000-0002-9372-5056
Additional Information:© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2022. Received 29 September 2021; Accepted 15 February 2022; Published 04 April 2022. We thank A. Boccaletti for many helpful conversations regarding the AB Aur protoplanetary disk and system properties. Z. Zhu generously provided circumplanetary disk models; S. Blunt provided expert advice on MCMC-based orbit fitting. We thank the Subaru, NASA-Keck and Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation committees for their generous allotment of observing time. This research is based in part on data collected at Subaru Telescope, which is operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. We acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea holds within the Hawaiian community. We are most fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct observations from this mountain. This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: 2012.1.00303.S. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada) and NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. This work was partially funded under NASA/XRP programmes 80NSSC20K0252 and NNX17AF88G. The development of SCExAO was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid for Research nos. 23340051, 26220704, 23103002, 19H00703 and 19H00695 and partly 18H05442, 15H02063, and 22000005), the Astrobiology Center of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Japan, the Mt Cuba Foundation and the director’s contingency fund at Subaru Telescope. Data availability: With the exception of data from the first CHARIS epoch (obtained during engineering observations), all raw SCExAO data are available for public download from the Subaru SMOKA archive: The first epoch data are available upon request. Keck data are available from the Keck Observatory Archive (; HST data are available from the Milkulski Archive for Space Telescopes ( Processed data are made available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Code availability: Data reduction pipelines used to create CHARIS data cubes and perform subsequent processing are publicly available on GitHub ( and Contributions: T.C. conceived of the project, (co-)led the total intensity data reduction, performed the spectroscopic and orbital analysis, and wrote the manuscript. K.L. and J.W. led the polarized intensity data reduction and the polarimetry-constrained PSF subtraction method for CHARIS. G.S. planned the STIS observations and co-led the HST/STIS and NICMOS reductions. W.L. generated the hydrodynamical models used to compare the real data with models of planet formation. C.G. aided with project and observing planning. O.G., J.L., S.V., V.D., N.J., F.M. and N.S. oversaw the operation of SCExAO. M.T. provided project management. T.K and H.K. planned and obtained one epoch of CHARIS data. T.B. provided dynamical mass estimates. T.U. and B.N. contributed VAMPIRES data reduction steps. R.D. and T.M. aided with interpreting planet-induced disk features. J.C., T.T. and T.G. lead the operation and maintenance of CHARIS. K.W.-D. and W.J. planned the STIS observations. N.v.d.M. provided the AB Aur ALMA image. M.S. obtained SpeX data. The authors all contributed to the original observing proposals, data acquisition and/or paper draft comments. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information: Nature Astronomy thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23340051
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)26220704
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)23103002
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)19H00703
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)19H00695
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)18H05442
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)15H02063
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)22000005
National Institutes of Natural Sciences of JapanUNSPECIFIED
Mt. Cuba Astronomical FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subaru TelescopeUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Astrophysical disks; Exoplanets
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220405-720710500
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Currie, T., Lawson, K., Schneider, G. et al. Images of embedded Jovian planet formation at a wide separation around AB Aurigae. Nat Astron 6, 751–759 (2022).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:114155
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:06 Apr 2022 16:06
Last Modified:30 Jun 2022 17:20

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