The Universe, in all its might and grandeur, sometime behaves like 5-year old, which likes nothing better than to play hide-and-seek with us. But, sometimes, we manage to beat it at its own game. And the prize at stake is nothing but the dawn of a New World, and not in a huxleyan way.
Stanford University was the one to uncover this never-before-seen celestial phenomenon, and the project was spearheaded by Doctor Kate Follett. Back in 2011, another team of scientists from the University of Arizona, discovered some traces that would indicate the possibility that a protoplanet might by right along the block, near a star designated as LkCa 15. According to early estimations, LkCa 15 is approximately 2 million years old, much younger in comparison with other newly found stars.
Protoplanets are considered to be embryos, which are formed and molded in what is called a protoplanetary disk. This disk is comprised of dense pockets of gas, which hover around a newly formed star. A protoplanetary disk is mostly of dense gases, although recent research points out that there are also traces of planetary dust, that play a crucial role in the protoplanet’s gestation.
Up until now, astronomers have able to map almost 2000 exoplanets, but they did not see them directly. They actually discovered them by studying the gaps formed in a large ring of dust and gas, which surrounds a star.
Using the technique, the astronomers from Stanford discovered a large gap in the dust disk surrounding LkCa 15. According their early estimates, it would seem that the system detected back in 2012, hosts and enormous protoplanet. The embryonic planet was designated LkCa 15b and it located at a distance of approximately 16 AUs from LkCa 15.
By studying the accumulation of gas and space dust around LkCa 155, the astronomers were able to witness the dawn of a new world. Furthermore, the team were able to provide us with pictures, as well. Using a new technique that employs the study of hydrogen-alpha proton, a pulsation light emitted by hydrogen once it is heated up at 17.500 degrees Fahrenheit. This is basically the embryos fingerprints.
The team was able to provide an accurate description of the process with the help of the Large Binocular Telescope. All the scientific community is hailing this new discovery and is eager to begin additional research into this new field of study. By looking up on how an outside planet was formed, we can unmistakably gain a better understanding on how our own Star System was created.