Scientists have discovered three ‘baby planets’ orbiting a new star in the constellation of Sagittarius. The new born star, named as HD 163296, is in our own galaxy, roughly 330 light years away from the earth.
Researchers used a breakthrough technique to find these infant planets, said to be the youngest planets ever seen. These are the first planets to be found using the powerful ALMA telescope in Chile, which is searching for our cosmic origins. The discovery was made by two independent teams of astronomers.
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“We looked at the localised, small-scale motion of gas in the star’s protoplanetary disc. This entirely new approach could uncover some of the youngest planets in our galaxy, all thanks to the high-resolution images from ALMA,” said Richard Teague, an astronomer at the University of Michigan.
These baby planets or protoplanets are large planetary embryo that are thought to be developing into a planet. These planets were discovered by the scientists when they spotted some disturbances in the gas-filled disk around star, HD 163296.
Thousands of exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, have been discovered already, mainly by using the Kepler space telescope, which watches for the dips of light that they cause as they pass in front of their star. But protoplanets of this kind cannot be found using those techniques.
The discovery was made by analysing images sent back from highly-powered telescopes pointing deep into the galaxy, in a way never done before.
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