We've Spotted a Planet So Young It's Still Forming
Oce Eeco stashed this in Exoplanets
<< Scientists have found exoplanets and protoplanets during their search for worlds beyond Earth, but here's a new first: A young planet still in the end stages of formation has been spotted by the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Best of all, it's been directly imaged – not discovered indirectly or inferred by seeing its star's light dip as the planet passes in front. The planet is believed to be between 1 and 10 million years old.
Located about 320 light years from Earth, the planet orbits star HD 100546. The existence of a companion planet for this star has long been suspected, but never confirmed until now. The star has a ring of gas and dust extending about 300 astronomical units out. In terms of our solar system, that would be far past the Kuiper Belt (where Pluto, Eris, and other dwarf planets reside) and the scattered disc, into the area full of detached objects (but not quite to the Oort Cloud.)
HD 100546b is far larger than Jupiter, and orbits its host star at about 68 AU. The giant planet is shown to be still gathering dust. The National Centre of Competence in Research Planets scientists who confirmed the planet suggest there's a second planetary candidate at around 13 AU, also believed to be a gas giant. The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal.
Source: NCCR >>
So this will give us insight into how planets form?
What do you think?
I think so, but planets form very very slowly compared with a human lifetime.
So likely we'll have to composite more sample exoplanets from elsewhere.
That's exactly what they try to do!
That, and also numerical simulations to fill the holes in between.
The more we get observational results of exoplanets forming at different stages, the better we can refine the models!
And once we have the precise recipe and cooking time, maybe we'll be able to 3D print planets?
3D printing planets sounds like an amazing idea!
We live in truly exciting times.