Astronomers have spotted an alien planet as it is being formed

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India May 22, 2020, 09.21 PM(IST) Edited By: Palki Sharma

The planetary maternity ward Photograph:( Reuters )

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This large young planet is forming around a star called AB Aurigae that is about 2.4 times the mass of the sun and located in our Milky Way galaxy 520 light years from Earth, researchers said on Wednesday.

Astronomers, for the first time, have spotted what appears to be a planet in the process of being born -- within a huge disk of dense gas and dust surrounding a newly formed star.

This large young planet is forming around a star called AB Aurigae that is about 2.4 times the mass of the sun and located in our Milky Way galaxy 520 light years from Earth, researchers said on Wednesday.

The scientists used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile to spot a spiral structure within the swirling disk around AB Aurigae generated by the presence of a planet. They detected a “twist” pattern of gas and dust in the spiral structure marking where the planet was coalescing.

"We can say that we were likely able to catch a planet in the process of formation," said Observatoire de Paris astronomer Anthony Boccaletti, who led the research published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The planet is located about 30 times further from its star than Earth’s distance from the sun -- about the distance of the planet Neptune in our solar system. It appears to be a large gas planet, not a rocky planet like Earth or Mars, and may be more massive than our solar system’s largest planet Jupiter.

(with inputs from Reuters)