Congratulations, Earth-dwellers. It’s a triplet of protoplanets!
Scientists have recently discovered three ‘baby’ planets in our very own galaxy, circling around a star of its own.
Why ‘baby’ planets? That’s because scientists believe these three are protoplanets, i.e., large planetary embryo thought to be developing into a planet.
Discovered using a breakthrough new technique by two independent teams of astronomers, the scientists have described these three protoplanets as “the youngest planets ever seen”.
The baby planets have been spotted roughly 330 light years from our solar system (yes, that’s relatively close!) orbiting around a newborn star named as HD 163296.
“Though thousands of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) have been discovered in the last few decades, detecting protoplanets is at the frontier of science,” said Christophe Pinte, a researcher at Australia’s Monash University and lead author on one of the two papers.
The baby planets were discovered when the scientists spotted some disturbances in the gas-filled disk around star HD 163296.
“It would take a relatively massive object, like a planet, to create localised disturbances in this otherwise orderly motion,” said Pinte. “Our new technique applies this principle to help us understand how planetary systems form.”
The discovery was confirmed with the help of images taken by highly-powered telescopes in a way it has never been done before.
“This entirely new approach could uncover some of the youngest planets in our galaxy, all thanks to the high-resolution images from ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array),” said Richard Teague, an astronomer at the University of Michigan and principal author on the other paper.
Now that even new baby planets have been discovered, can we have some friendly aliens, please?
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