Interaction Between Gas Giant and Protoplanetary Disk
Visualization of a simulation of the interaction between a massive gas giant planet (comparable in mass to Jupiter) and a surrounding protoplanetary disk of gas and dust. These disks are observed to be present for the first few million years after stars such as the sun form. The gravitational interaction between the planet and the gas disk has two consequences. First, it results in the opening of an annular gap in the gas disk near the location of the planet, which starves the planet of further gas needed to grow. And second, it launches spiral waves within the disk that allow the planet to exchange energy with its surroundings. This can cause the planet's orbit to change. It may migrate closer toward the star, and--if the planet is massive enough--develop an eccentric orbit.
The image is from simulations created as part of a National Science Foundation-supported project (under grant AST 08-07471) to study the formation of planetary systems and their interaction with protoplantary disks.
Credit: Phil Armitage, University of Colorado
See other images like this on your iPhone or iPad download NSF Science Zone on the Apple App Store.
Images and other media in the National Science Foundation Multimedia Gallery are available for use in print and electronic material by NSF employees, members of the media, university staff, teachers and the general public. All media in the gallery are intended for personal, educational and nonprofit/non-commercial use only.
Images credited to the National Science Foundation, a federal agency, are in the public domain. The images were created by employees of the United States Government as part of their official duties or prepared by contractors as "works for hire" for NSF. You may freely use NSF-credited images and, at your discretion, credit NSF with a "Courtesy: National Science Foundation" notation.
Additional information about general usage can be found in Conditions.
Download the high-resolution TIF version of the image. (635 KB)
Use your mouse to right-click (Mac users may need to Ctrl-click) the link above and choose the option that will save the file or target to your computer.