A newborn star, situated in the Sagittarius Constellation at 330 light-years away from Earth, is orbited by three baby planets, the ALMA telescope in Chile discovered. In fact, these space objects are not planets, yet. They are known as protoplanets, objects of matter which are circling their host stars and are still under formation.
This significant finding was presented in more details by two distinct research reports, both issued today in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
These three baby planets are at least as big as Jupiter, and they orbit a newborn star of only four million years old, which might seem old but, taking in account that our Sun has about 4 billion years old, this newly found star is just a “baby.”
“Finding planets at this stage in their life is extremely hard and essentially boils down to finding enough evidence to show that only a planet could cause what we see,” said Richard Teague, an astronomer from the University of Michigan, and the study’s leading author.
Two distinct studies confirmed the presence of the three baby planets or protoplanets around the newborn star, HD 163296
The scientists had to come up with new methods for detecting this three protoplanets. Accordingly, the astronomers looked for the changes a planet would do on its surroundings, rather than looking for the planet directly.
Astronomers used the ALMA telescope in Chile to study the protoplanetary disk of interstellar gas and dust surrounding the newborn star HD 163296. Protoplanetary disks, as their name implies, are the region of a solar system where the planets are forming.
After thoroughly examining the readings, the researchers observed disturbances in the gas within the protoplanetary disk. Eventually, these disturbances turned out to as big as planets would be.
Two distinct studies confirmed the presence of the three baby planets orbiting the newborn star HD 163296. Even more, the new method for discovering protoplanets implemented in the ALMA telescope in Chile is useful for future young planets detection and might help astronomers learn more about stars formation.