Astronomers may have encountered irrefutable evidence of an Earth-like planet in its early stages thanks to the images obtained from the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). The newborn planet is thought to share some of the same characteristics as Earth due to the proximity between the host star and the planet.
The ALMA facilities located in Chile gave scientists astounding results as the images captured lacked the common distortion present in most images of the cosmos, thanks to the position of TW Hydrae when looked from Earth. ALMA is basically an arrangement of a series of dishes in the Chilean mountains. The forthcoming planet was described as a newborn planet by scientists because is about 10 million years old, which in universe terms represents baby years.
The protoplanetary disc, called TW Hydrae was exposed on a picture showing its inner region in the images released by ALMA in Chile. The study led by Sean Andrews from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) could help shed some light on how planets such as Earth form, as the findings shows the planet in its premature phase.
The planet-forming disk around its host star TW Hydrae represents the first chance for researchers to actually be witnesses of the creation of an Earth-like planet. Even though further research is needed to accurately determine the planet’s characteristics, its size and mass remain uncertain.
Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics however, say the size of the planet could be pretty much like Earth’s size, or could even get classified as a giant planet. From a general perspective, the study has gained much popularity due to the possibility of examining the early stages of a planet’s formation.
The study could shed light on Earth’s origins
Considering that everything researchers have been able to determine regarding Earth’s origins has been using only what remained from the event, the study led by Sean Andrews could be a promising asset. In addition, as the still-forming planet is located over 175 light years away and is viewed on a wide range, astronomers can get undistorted images.
“TW Hydrae is quite special,” said co-author of the study David Wilner from the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA. “It is the nearest known protoplanetary disk to Earth and it may closely resemble our Solar System when it was only 10 million years old.”
The protoplanetary disk known as TW Hydrae could provide researchers with an abundant source of data in order to better understand Earth’s beginnings, and possibly it’s likely future. The similarities from both Earth’s solar system and TW Hydrae’s solar system could also help widen astronomer’s perception about interplanetary systems, Earth’s solar system included.
Source: Scientific American