NASA simulation depicts planet makes waves in debris of Beta Pictoris

With the help of new computer simulation, NASA depicted a planet in motions and debris disk around nearby star Beta Pictoris. The supercomputer simulation shows the planet’s motion that drives spiral waves throughout the disk and debris disk around Beta Pictoris.

“We essentially created a virtual Beta Pictoris in the computer and watched it evolve over millions of years,” said Erika Nesvold, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who co-developed the simulation. “This is the first full 3-D model of a debris disk where we can watch the development of asymmetric features formed by planets, like warps and eccentric rings, and also track collisions among the particles at the same time,” Nesvold said.

Located 63 light years away, Beta Pictoris is the second star known to be surrounded by the dust and debris. According to researchers, the star is nearly 21 million years old.

Back in 2009, researcher confirmed the existence of Beta Pictoris b planet in the debris disk around the Beta Pictoris. The planet is nine times heavier than heaviest planet of our solar system — Jupiter.

Although, scientists showed the star with help computer simulation, they found it difficult to explain various features seen in the computer model including an X-shaped pattern visible in scattered light, and vast clumps of carbon monoxide gas.

“Our simulation suggests many of these features can be readily explained by a pair of colliding spiral waves excited in the disk by the motion and gravity of Beta Pictoris b,” said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

Researchers used NASA’s Discover supercomputer to run the simulation and it was found that the planet moves along its tilted path and it passes vertically through the disk twice each orbit.

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