mrt 012013
Are We Witnessing the Birth of a Giant Planet?

  Candidate protoplanet spotted inside its stellar womb Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope have obtained what is likely the first direct observation of a forming planet still embedded in a thick disc of gas and dust. If confirmed, this discovery will greatly improve our understanding of how planets form and allow astronomers to test [continue reading]

jan 312013
Is Nearby Star Forming Planets Like Those in our Solar System?

  Using ESA’s Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers including Thomas Henning from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg have used a new method to determine the mass of the planetary nursery around the star TW Hydrae. At a distance of merely 176 light-years from Earth, this is the closest star that is currently forming [continue reading]

jan 032013
How a Young Star and its Planets Grow Simultaneously

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have seen a key stage in the birth of giant planets for the first time. Vast streams of gas are flowing across a gap in the disk of material around a young star. These are the first direct observations of these streams, which are expected [continue reading]

nov 302012
Brown Dwarfs May Host Rocky Earth-Like Planets

  Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-size planets form, and suggests that rocky planets [continue reading]

nov 292012
Dust Grains in Protoplanetary Disks Form Fully-Grown Planets

  An international team of researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and the Japanese universities of Kobe, Hyogo, and Saitama used the Subaru Telescope to capture a clear image of the protoplanetary disk of the star UX Tauri A. The team’s subsequent, detailed study of the disk’s characteristics suggests that its dust [continue reading]

nov 112012
Incredible Number of Comet Collisions Explain Stellar Mystery

  Every six seconds, for millions of years, comets have been colliding with one another near a star in the constellation Cetus called 49 CETI, which is visible to the naked eye. An artsists concept of a “Kuiper Belt” with comets. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Over the past three decades, astronomers have discovered hundreds of dusty [continue reading]