It is normal that scientists locate planets that are old, but for the first time, they have found a trio of planets that are still in the newborn phase.
What Did Scientists Discover In Space?
Scientists have located three baby planets forming around a 4-million-year-old star called HD 163296. It is located in the constellation of Sagittarius, roughly 330 light-years away from Earth.
There were two studies about the findings published in June 2018 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The star is roughly 1,000 times younger than the sun. The newborn planets, which are still forming around gas and dust, are roughly the size of Jupiter. Each planet is between 7 billion and 24 billion miles away from the star. It is typically very rare to spot new planets that are being formed.
"[It] essentially boils down to finding enough evidence to show that only a planet could cause what we see," astronomer Richard Teague, one of the authors of the study, wrote to CNN.
How Did Scientists Discover The New Planets?
The three planets were discovered by two independent teams of astronomers working simultaneously. They used innovative technology to find the planets and the star.
At the heart of the discovery efforts was the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. Using the power of 66 high-precision antennas, the researchers were able to track the locations of each planet. This marked the first time that this telescope was used to find three new planets.
They looked at the small-scale motion of dust and gas forming around the protoplanetary disk. This involved a method that is typically not conducted by astronomers. The researchers recorded any odd motions of the gas flowing into the disk. Once this was discovered, they made the determination that this was a new planet.
How Will This Discovery Change Future Planet Explorations?
This new discovery could help explain how new planets are formed. Currently, there is no broad understanding of how planets are formed exactly.
Astronomers could use this same method with the telescopes to find other new planets in the galaxy. That is exactly what the teams of researchers behind this discovery want to do in the future.
"We can also examine what the chemical and molecular content of the gas is like around the protoplanet and build a picture of what atmospheres are like on very young planets," Teague said. "These results will provide essential evidence for theoreticians trying to fill in the gaps about how planets grow."