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Re: [thefixedstars] Yahoo! News Story - Planet Formation is Child's Play - Yahoo! News

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  • Mark Andrew Holmes
    ... http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20071129/sc_space/planetformationischildsplay ... Reposting story. Mark A. Holmes Begin story.-- Planet Formation is Child s
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2007
      --- Mark Andrew Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...> wrote:

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      > Mark Andrew Holmes (mahtezcatpoc@...) has sent
      > you a news article.
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      > Personal message:
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      > Planet Formation is Child's Play - Yahoo! News
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20071129/sc_space/planetformationischildsplay
      >

      Reposting story.


      Mark A. Holmes


      Begin story.--

      Planet Formation is Child's Play

      Dave Mosher
      Staff Writer
      SPACE.com Thu Nov 29, 5:00 PM ET

      Astronomers think they have found the two youngest
      solar systems ever detected, where infant planets
      could be sweeping up dust and creating voids in
      protoplanetary disks 450 light-years from Earth.


      NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observed the ring-like
      gaps, which could signal the earliest signs of rocky
      planet formation around two young stars located in the
      constellation Taurus—UX Tau A and LkCa 15. Both stars
      are about 1 million years old, which is 10 times
      younger than other known planet-forming systems.

      "Previously, astronomers were seeing holes at the
      centers of protoplanetary disks," said Catherine
      Espaillat, an astronomer at the University of Michigan
      in Ann Arbor. Such holes are typically thought to be
      caused by photoevaporation, or stars burning dust away
      into light energy.

      But instead of central holes, Espaillat's team saw
      ring-like gaps in the spinning planetary materials.

      "It's more like a lane has been cleared within the
      disk. The existence of planets is the most probable
      theory that can explain this structure," she said, as
      the lanes are likely too distant from the star to
      photoevaporate.

      The idea is similar to touching a dusty record as it
      rotates, clearing a ring in the mat of particles;
      planets, however, use their growing gravity to sweep
      up the dust.

      The Dec. 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters will
      detail Espaillat and her colleagues' findings about
      the infant solar systems, which they said could help
      explain our own planet's past.

      "We are looking for our history," said University of
      Michigan astronomer Nuria Calvet, who worked with
      Espaillat on the research. "We are looking for the
      history of solar systems, trying to understand how
      they form."


      --End story.


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