A Planet is Born

A Planet Being Born? Credit : ESO Very Large Telesope

A Planet Being Born?
Credit : ESO Very Large Telesope

For the first time ever, astronomers may have captured a direct image of a planet being born. Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope  in conjunction with the Hubble Space Telescope,  an international team based in Switzerland found what appears to be the birth of gas giant planet around the star HD 100546, 335 light years away from Earth.

The apparent discovery, which may be difficult to officially confirm, came when astronomers using a special optic instrument on the VLT, noticed a distinct “blob” in the vast ring of gas surrounding the young star system.  HD 100546 is already thought to have one large planet orbiting six times further out from the star than Earth is from our own Sun, but the object which is the subject of the current story is further still,  more than 10 times the Earth /Sun distance.  If it is indeed a planet, the distant location may challenge current theories of how gas giants are formed.

The full story may be found here.

An idle thought.  One staple of science fiction both written and on the screen, is the discovery of ancient remains of much older sentient race, now departed.   Such civilizations are frequently referred to as the  “First Ones” or something close to that. As we now develop the technologies to actually observe planets and stars in formation, and gaze out on a galaxy which is plainly filled with a startling array of planetary systems, could it  be that most science fiction writers really missed the boat on this, and we are actually the “first ones, ” living in a much earlier epoch of life in the galaxy than we so frequently imagined?

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1 Comment on "A Planet is Born"

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  1. Could read this subject all day.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Amazing what we can see now in deep space


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