A recent study has unveiled how long-lived Peter Pan discs evolve. The results could provide new insights into how planets develop.
Protoplanetary or planet-forming discs are massive space objects of dust and gas found orbiting young stars. The recently spotted Peter Pan discs, called like this because they “never grow up,” are living almost 5-10 times longer than other typical protoplanetary discs. Here is what you should know.
Peter Pan Discs Features and Other Significant Details
Astronomers spotted the Peter Pan discs for the first time in 2016. Questions around why and how these discs live so long have been left unanswered. Now, scientists might have some clues.
For the recent research, the scientists utilized computer simulations to analyze some possible starting configurations and ways in which the disc forms to unveil the compound of conditions required to create the Peter Pan discs. They have dubbed it the “Neverland’s parameters.” The results indicate that the discs only grow in remote environments, away from other stars. And that they also need to start much bigger than normal discs.
Until the finding of long-lived Peter Pan discs, scientists believed that all discs had a few million years of endurance and faded away by 10 million years, indicating that the planets within them must evolve quickly.
“A particularly intriguing point is that Peter Pan discs have so far only been found around low mass stars, and these low mass stars are generally being found to host lots of planets,” detailed Dr. Thomas Haworth, from the Queen Mary University of London.
Because of the particular environment required for the development of these discs, it is expected that they are rare. So far, only seven Peter Pan discs have been found as the result of a citizen science collaboration, dubbed the Disk Detective project between Zooniverse and NASA. The discs could help scientists to understand better planet formation, one of the main problems in astrophysics.