Scientists observe young planet being bornDate: 22 May 2020 Tags: Space
A recent observation by the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) is theorized to be the first look at a baby planet as it makes its way into the vast universe.
Planets form from a disk of gas and dust that encircle a young star. Gravitational forces pull the gas and dust together and, sometime between 1 to 10 million years later, all of that collision results in a planetary body.
The team of scientists behind the new study began by observing a young star system, dubbed AB Aurigae. This system is located around 520 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Auriga.
Scientists first observed hints of this planetary birth a few years ago with Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in northern Chile. This instrument revealed two spiral arms near the young star, within the inner region of its surrounding disk.
The twist corresponds to the connection of two spirals, one winding inwards of the planet's orbit, the other expanding outwards, which join at the planet location. They allow gas and dust from the disc to accrete onto the forming planet and make it grow.
However, scientists needed a clearer image of the star system in order to capture the disk in detail and know exactly what they were observing.
More than thousand of planets have been detected and observed in the vast universe. However, there is still so much unknown about how the planets came to be in the first place.
The recent observations inches scientists one step closer to better understanding the formation of planetary bodies in our own Solar System, and beyond.
ESO is building another telescope, called the Extremely Large Telescope, which will help get an even better look at how exactly the planet forms. The paper notes that the process of forming a new planet could take a few million years.