Is a Planet Being Born As We Speak?

03.02.11 8 years ago

In the constellation of Chameleon (named during the Age of Aquarius), there resides the star T Chamealeontis. It’s like our sun, only much, much younger at seven million years old. And it might offer clues to how our planet was squeezed out.

T Chamealeontis is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk, aka a big pile of space crap that planets are made out of. While we know in theory how planets are formed, we’ve never had a telescope powerful enough to examine how the universe makes planets, but now we’ve got the Very Large Telescope, which is actually not what it sounds like (it’s really an array of four Very Large Telescopes, but that’s harder to make into a penis joke, the key criteria of all scientific naming).

That lets us see that there’s a gap in the disk that might just be a planet. We’re still not totally sure what the what is just yet (it could be just a brown dwarf), but astronomers might finally have a reason to pass out those cigars they’ve been saving.

[ via the ninja dwarfs at Kotaku ]

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