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Three exoplanets are in the process of being born around a young star that's not too far from the sun, two new studies report.
That star is the 4-million-year-old HD 163296, which lies roughly 330 light-years from our own solar system, in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius.
Studies - Evidence - Existence - Worlds - Jupiter-like
The two new studies provide strong evidence for the existence of those two presumed alien worlds, as well as a third one. All three are Jupiter-like gas giants, and they orbit at distances of 80 AU, 140 AU and 260 AU, researchers said. (One AU, short for "astronomical unit," is the average Earth-sun distance — about 93 million miles, or 150 kilometers.)
Artist's illustration of protoplanets forming around a young star.
Research - Teams - ALMA - Data - Gaps
Both research teams looked at ALMA data. But, instead of studying gaps in the disk, they employed a new strategy: analyzing the motion of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. CO and other gases tend to move in a predictable way in protoplanetary disks — unless they run into gravitational obstacles.
"It would take a relatively massive object, like a planet, to create localized disturbances in this otherwise orderly motion," Christophe Pinte of Monash University in Australia, lead author of one of the two new papers, said in a statement. "Our new technique applies this principle to help us understand how planetary systems form."
ALMA - Image - Disk
ALMA image of the protoplanetary disk surrounding the...
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