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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics