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Astronomers in Chile detect birth of planet


SANTIAGO, March 2- The European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile said Friday it has detected what appears to be the birth of a giant planet in a galaxy fairly close to the Earth, reports China’s Xinhua news agency.  In a press release, the agency said the fledgling formation consisted of a thick disc of dust and gas around a young star, some 335 light years from our planet.

According to ESO scientists, the discovery marks the first time that researchers have been able to detect the formation of a planet, and the discovery could greatly improve understanding of how planets come into being.  An international team of researchers studying the disc of dust and gas around the star was surprised to find a planet in the making, which they believe may grow into a “gas giant similar to Jupiter.”

images (6)“So far, planet formation has mostly been a topic tackled by computer simulations,” said Sascha Quanz, a Swiss scientist who headed the research team.

“If our discovery is indeed a forming planet, then for the first time scientists will be able to study the planet formation process and the interaction of a forming planet and its natal environment empirically at a very early stage,” he added.  The probable budding planet was first detected as “a faint blob” through an adapted VLT (Very Large Telescope), using pioneering data analysis techniques,
said ESO.

Astronomers have detected several phenomena in the images of the disc around the star, which support their hypothesis that what they are observing is a protoplanet.