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 042013
 
Our Milky Way is Home to at Least 100 Billion Planets

  Look up at the night sky and you’ll see stars, sure. But you’re also seeing planets—billions and billions of them. At least.    That’s the conclusion of a new study by astronomers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) that provides yet more evidence that planetary systems are the cosmic norm. The team made [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 122012
 
A Gap in the Disk of a Sun-Like Star may host Multiple Exoplanets

  A large international team of astronomers led by Jun Hashimoto (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) and Ruobing Dong (Princeton University) has used the High Contrast Instrument for the Subaru Next Generation Adaptive Optics (HiCIAO) to observe and examine PDS 70 (Note 1), a young star about 10 million years old with a mass similar [continue reading]

okt 092012
 
Huge Amounts of Water Detected at Dawn of Stellar Birth

  ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered enough water vapour to fill Earth’s oceans more than 2000 times over, in a gas and dust cloud that is on the verge of collapsing into a new Sun-like star. Herschel’s infrared view of part of the Taurus Molecular Cloud, within which the bright, cold pre-stellar cloud L1544 [continue reading]

okt 052012
 
Chemistry of Protoplanetary Disks Can Now Be Studied

  According to the nebular hypothesis, star formation produces a gaseous protoplanetary disk around it, providing the environment and material for planet formation. Studying these systems can generate information regarding how and when planets formed, and is a hot topic in astrophysics. Artist impression of the Solar System. Image Credit: ESA Until recently, in depth [continue reading]