Newly forming planet observed in distant star system

Artist rendition of newly formed planet orbiting its young star
Artist rendition of newly formed planet orbiting its young starCourtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt (SSC)
Astronomers in Germany have announced the discovery of a newborn planet in a distant solar system.

Johny Setiawan, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, discovered the extrasolar planet using the 2.2m Max-Planck-Gesellschaft telescope in Chile. He said it’s the first and so far earliest example of a planet observed during its formation process.

Planets are thought to form out of the disks of dust and gas swirling around newly created stars. The new planet, catalogued as TW Hydrae b, is situated in the constellation Hydrae some 180 light years from Earth, and is only about 8 or so million years old – a mere baby in terms of planetary formation. In fact, the star it circles isn’t much further along in its own development.

"This demonstrates that planets can form within 10 million years, before the disk has been dissipated by stellar winds and radiation," the researchers explained in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

The gaseous newborn’s mass is about 10 times that of Jupiter in our own solar system, and orbits at a distance of about 4 million miles, just inside the inner edge of its star’s disk of gas and dust.

"The discovery shows that what we always call as 'protoplanetary' disks are indeed protoplanetary; they form planets," Setiawan said. "There are many 'protoplanetary' disks detected around young stars, but no planets so far have been detected within such young systems."


BBC.com story
Story at SpaceRef.com
The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Josh S.'s picture
Josh S. says:

How come none of my comments have been posted?? RUDE!! Anyway, I will try again.. This is proof that our universe is constantly changing and growing and we have no idea about a lot of things going on within it. So, I pose the question... Do you still believe that God is not in control? He is constantly creating new things...even galaxies and universes.

posted on Fri, 03/28/2008 - 6:47pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

All comments from unregistered users are put into an approval queue and are not posted until an administrator looks them over, to make sure they aren't obscene, irrelevant, gibberish, spam, etc. Sorry about the delay, but we have to do it to keep the comments functional. And, as you see, your comment did get posted within a few hours.

posted on Sat, 03/29/2008 - 1:13pm
MrAlexanderRuben's picture
MrAlexanderRuben says:

Wow, Good Job On That.

posted on Thu, 12/20/2012 - 9:12pm

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