Nature is one of the most prestigious scientific journals that publishes research results that are sufficiently ground-breaking in a particular field.
“Most articles are rejected without review in the first screening,” Rhee says. “We believed our research made a very important and impacting discovery in the formation of Earth-like planets. We wanted to let our results be known not only to the scientific community, but also to the general public through the attention from the mainstream media given to the articles published in Nature.”
Rhee co-authored the paper with a team of five other astronomers from UC San Diego, UCLA, the University of Georgia and Australian National University. Their research stemmed from several years ago when they observed a young sun-like star, designated TYC 8241 2652, had a large amount of warm dusty disks nearby, presumably in the process of making Earth-like planets, also known as terrestrial planets.
Scientists theorized that planets are formed from dust debris disks surrounding young sun-like stars. Small dust particles randomly collide with each other and grow into larger bodies that can eventually grow into a protoplanet or be broken down to debris such as asteroids. Successive observations over 2 ½ years of TYC 8241 2652 indicated that all the dust had disappeared.
“The formation of Earth-like planets is believed to take from 30 [million] to 100 million years,” Rhee says. “We do not have any good theory to explain this bizarre phenomenon, as two to three years is very little time in the 50 million year span of a terrestrial planet formation. One thing is certain: What we know about the formation of Earth-like planets is not complete. Our discovery asks for a new revised theory that can explain this sudden rapid disappearance of warm dust in the process.”
Rhee worked on the raw data taken with a telescope and reduced it in order to extract information to be used in the article. His main work consisted of extracting photometry values from the infrared data obtained with infrared space telescopes and ground-based telescopes.
“I have been consistently publishing my research in astronomy for the past several years,” Rhee says. “My research interests lie on finding young sun-like main-sequence stars with Earth-like planets and testing the standard model of galaxies with active super massive black holes.”
The article is available to subscribers on nature.com.
To view an animation showing the disappearance of dust from the TYC 8241 2652 system, go to www.gemini.edu/images/pio/press_release/2012/pr2012-5/clear_disk_loop.gif. (Credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA artwork by Lynette Cook.)
Rhee has published 14 articles, including six first-authored papers, mostly in Astrophysical Journal. Other articles can be found on the NASA Astrophysics Data System website at http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abstract_service.html using “Authors” search with “rhee, j”.
(Photo: Joseph Rhee works in the control room of the Gemini Observatory at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.)