Three New Planets
With the expanding size of the universe, it’s pretty normal when scientists discover new planets. Since a planet’s life cycle is measured in the billions of years, when a new planet is discovered, it’s usually in it’s older phase of life. That’s why this next discovery is so cool!
Recently, scientists have discovered 3 new planets that are still in their “newborn” phase. These three new planets were found around a 4 million-year-old star called HD 163296. The star is about 1,000 years younger than the sun and the three new planets that surround it are so young that they’re still just balls of gas and dust.
How They Were Discovered
The discovery of these planets was done by two independent astronomers that worked at the same time. The main discovery efforts were achieved by using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). While both teams of scientists conducted their experiments independently, their results were fairly similar.
Scientists discovered these planets with a new technique. By looking for a certain kind of light emission in the gas-filled disk around the star, they were able to locate the new planets. The light emission is put out by the movement of carbon monoxide. This whole technique allows them to understand how the gas around the star is moving.
Without the planets in the disk, the gas would have a consistent movement pattern. However, there was unusual movement which suggested the presence of planets. Cristophe Pinte, a scientist at Monash University in Australia, says, “ It would take a relatively massive object, like a planet, to create localized disturbance in this otherwise orderly motion.”
3 disturbances were found by scientists and each disturbance represents a different planet. While technically there are other reasons that these disturbances could be appearing, the most likely reason is that of newly forming planets.
So how did the scientists collect this data that led them to this amazing discovery? By analyzing images taken by extremely powerful telescopes looking far into our galaxy in a different way. They looked at the localized, minuscule motion of gas in the star’s protoplanetary disc.
What This Means For Us
There really is no concept of how planets are formed so this new technique of looking at high-resolution images will help discover many more young planets. Now, astronomers can accurately measure planetary masses even locate planets in their orbits.