Birth of a Planet

Started by tmw89, January 02, 2013, 10:43:44 PM

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Giant planet's start seen swirling around star
Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
5:36p.m. EST January 2, 2013

How do jumbo planets such as Jupiter form? Astronomers may have caught one in a nearby solar system being born, offering an answer.

A pair of dusty filaments stretch more than 7.4 billion miles across the length of the solar system of nearby star HD14252, feeding a young planet's growth in a manner never seen before, report radio astronomers led by Simon Casassus of Chile's Universidad de Chile in Santiago.

The team used Chile's new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to take a close look at the dust disks swirling around the star. The find supports a theory that instabilities in such disks surrounding young stars build up to grow giant planets in a snowballing fashion.

"Astronomers and theorists have been waiting for decades for ALMA to be built and begin operations, and this early discovery shows that the wait has been well worthwhile," says planetary scientist Alan Boss, author of The Crowded Universe: The Race to Find Life Beyond Earth. "This is great stuff!" he says, by e-mail.

The Nature journal study reports a Jupiter-size planet is likely forming about 90 times farther away from the star than Earth's orbital distance from the sun. Boss suggests that other giant planets have likely already formed around the star, clearing a central dust-free ring around HD 14252.
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That is incredible.  7.4 billion miles!  Such an inconceivable distance, and yet it's a mere blip (if that) in the universe.  There are very few things I could never tire of, but looking up at the night sky is one of them--especially knowing such marvels as this are out there.

O ye Sun and Moon, bless ye the Lord:  O ye Stars of Heaven, bless ye the Lord!
"Sero Te amavi, Pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova.  Sero Te amavi!"-Confessions, X.27

"You've thought about eternity for twenty-five minutes and think you've come to some interesting conclusions."--