The mysteries of planet formation have fascinated generations of scientists. In the last decades, a theory that aimed to explain the process became popular among many researchers. The theory seemed to be highly probable, but the researchers were unable to find conclusive proof.
It is thought that planet formation started from small objects, similar to those that can be found in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt. The existence of such objects has been anticipated, but their size made them hard to spot, even when some of the most powerful telescopes were used.
A team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan has managed to make a landmark discovery. The team employed to small telescopes to explore the sky. Some 2000 stars were selected and observed throughout 60 hours. A special method called occultation was used to spot the elusive object. A high number of stars was monitored, and the researchers looked carefully after any sign that an object could pass in front of the stars.
A small Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Object was spotted by the team, marking a landmark achievement for an independent project. The team was able to spot the object with the help of two telescopes, and one of them lacked a protective dome that is usually used to protect sensitive technology.
The existence of the object, with measures almost 1.3 kilometers, has the potential to confirm one of the most popular scientific theories of all time. Some researchers were already ardent supporters of the planetesimal theory. This theory claims that planets start their life as a small agglomeration of the object. As time passes, these objects will continue to grow by attracting new celestial bodies, eventually transforming into the myriads of planets that are known today.
Further work will be done to learn more about the nature of the objects and their purpose bu the information known at this point is quite valuable.