Astronomers believe to spot the first direct evidence of a new planet being formed. Around 520 years away from the Earth, a dense disc of gas and dust is forming around a young star, AB Aurigae.
“Thousands of exoplanets have been identified so far, but little is known about how they form,” said Dr Anthony Boccaletti, who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, France. He continued, “We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form.”
Researchers observed a new world formation when they saw a spiral structure with a twist near the centre. Recently, astronomers were able to take clear images of young discs and see these twists. Dr Boccaletti and team used VLT’s Sphere Instrument to capture photos of AB Aurigae. In 2018, this instrument was used to capture the photos of a newfound planet (5.4 million years old).
The new planet is rotating around the AB Aurigae, kicking dust and gas and forming a yellow spiral. The bright yellow region near the centre of the spiral is the twist. This distance between the baby planet and the star is the same as the distance between the Sun and the Neptune.
The study co-author, Anne Dutrey, said, “The twist is expected from some theoretical models of planet formation. It corresponds to the connection of two spirals – one winding inwards of the planet’s orbit, the other expanding outwards – which join at the planet location. They allow gas and dust from the disc to accrete onto the forming planet and make it grow.”
What is An Exoplanet?
Planets outside the solar system, orbiting other stars are called exoplanets. Their size varies from giant planets like Jupiter to small planets like Earth. Also, their form varies from gas to rock. They can be deep freeze or extremely hot.