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[Science] Planet Construction Site Spotted

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LOC    1,022
A vast collection of space pebbles surrounding a relatively nearby star is a planetary construction zone, astronomers said today.

The star, TW Hydrae, is young and ripe for developing new worlds.

New observations reveal a swath of pebble-sized material extending at least a billion miles from the star. It's just the sort of stuff theory says is needed for making comets, asteroids and eventually planets around a young star.

"We're seeing planet building happening right before our eyes," David Wilner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said Friday.  "The foundation has been laid and now the building materials are coming together to make a new solar system."

Right age

After a star is born, it takes millions of years for a planet to form, astronomers believe. TW Hydrae is about 10 million years old.

Only a few sets of observations have shown the planet-formation process in progress, and scientists have yet to witness all the phases, thereby letting them piece together a full chain of events based not just on theory but real evidence. It's also not known if there is just one primary mechanism for building a planet or if there might be two or more.

Wilner and colleagues used the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array to measure radio emissions from TW Hydrae. The length of the radio waves suggest the size of particles from which they emanate.

"The strong emission at wavelengths of a few centimeters is convincing evidence that particles of about the same size are present," said co-research Mark Claussen of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. "No one has seen this before."

One project completed?

One giant planet may already have formed.

A computer simulation of the disk of material around the star, based on previous infrared observations, reveals a gap that extends from the star out to a distance of about 400 million miles -- similar to the distance to the asteroid belt in our solar system. The gap likely formed when a giant planet sucked up all the nearby material, leaving a hole in the middle of

the disk, the astronomers say.

Located about 180 light-years away in the constellation Hydra the Water Snake, TW Hydrae is nearly as massive as our Sun.

"TW Hydrae is unique," Wilner said. "It's nearby, and it's just the right age to be forming planets. We'll be studying it for decades to come."

Source

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vincent    154

sweet news, and it seems that this planet just might be at the right distance from TW Hydrae?

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LOC    1,022

Yeah, seems to be likely. But I doubt there is a planet like the Earth or even Mercury in there yet. Give it another few million years and maybe. But since the star is similar to ours, and it is forming planets as we speak, who knows in a couple billion years we could meet our new friends from TW Hydrae :p

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vincent    154

yup, and this will be watched very very closely it will shed a whole new light and maybe confirm some theories on planetary science and how planets are formed. Man gravity is such a powerful force.

*goes to read up on the theory of relativity*

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LOC    1,022

Ah but we will never know in our lifetime, sadly. To bad all this cosmic stuff takes millions of years :(

If only we could change the cosmological constant and speed things up.

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vincent    154
Ah but we will never know in our lifetime, sadly. To bad all this cosmic stuff takes millions of years :(

If only we could change the cosmological constant and speed things up.

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But look at it this way.

Space is vast, very very very very vast. Now if they found this system in THIS stage of formation who knows (if we watch the sky more closely with a bigger telescope(S) (<-- that's a hint us gov't and Nasa) We just might catch another system being closer to the final stages of formation :)

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LOC    1,022
But look at it this way.

Space is vast, very very very very vast. Now if they found this system in THIS stage of formation who knows (if we watch the sky more closely with a bigger telescope(S) (<-- that's a hint us gov't and Nasa) We just might catch another system being closer to the final stages of formation :)

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Yes but as with all things in space, the probability of us finding one single star system in this stage of formation is pretty big. I mean, it would be a pretty big deal if we could see a system forming planets as we watch. Dunno, could happen, just the odds are, heh, astronomical. (get it? hahaahh!)

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vincent    154

I was watching the science channel yesterday (Tuesday's are space days) and the cosmic odysee (sp?)

and it was an episode on the outer solars system, the Oort cloud and primarily the Moons of Jupiter, and one mission that was being discussed was one to that of Europa and how , if they can get a probe to the moon, have it survive the intense radiation field genereated by jupiter (thread on that in a few, because i wanna know about it) land on that moon, and drill a hole in the ice and send a sub-probe to explore. One mission is gonna take place in 2011 and it will be a probe that is gonna map the entire surface of Europa. Since voyager did a magnificent job in the 90's the technology now will enable clearer photos and more info on this icy/watery moon.

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killmaster84    41

What about Deep Impact the guy that wants to sue NASA for making a big whole on a comet?

anyways thats pretty cool.

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zhangm    1,333
Ah but we will never know in our lifetime, sadly. To bad all this cosmic stuff takes millions of years :(

If only we could change the cosmological constant and speed things up.

586207964[/snapback]

Doesn't the cosmological constant determine how quickly the universe will expand or contract? :huh:

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vincent    154
Doesn't the cosmological constant determine how quickly the universe will expand or contract?  :huh:

586211587[/snapback]

It's still a theory, more evidence is found in the expansion than contraction.

Although just the thought of a contracting universe is a very scary thought if you really think about it :pinch:

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LOC    1,022
Doesn't the cosmological constant determine how quickly the universe will expand or contract?  :huh:

586211587[/snapback]

Yes and no. But my comment was a vague reference to Q from Star Trek. :)

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ev0|    2

Was there a Vogon Constructor Fleet Nearby ? :laugh:

Seriously, tho, interesting stuff. It really annoys me that we live in such a primitive time we can't spend all our time working on a interstellar ship exploring the universe. That would be so much better than living on earth.

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zhangm    1,333
It's still a theory, more evidence is found in the expansion than contraction.

Although just the thought of a contracting universe is a very scary thought if you really think about it :pinch:

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Hate to say it, but an ever-expanding universe isn't much better. The cosmological constant started off as just some constant that Einstein used to make his model of the universe static. Increase the cosmological constant and the universe will eventually contract, decrease it and it will continue expanding. It relates to the average density of the universe, the denser the universe is, the more hold gravity has on its fate.

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Argote    73

Nice... I wish we could live thousands of years so we could really notice this...

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Fred Derf    217
Hate to say it, but an ever-expanding universe isn't much better.  The cosmological constant started off as just some constant that Einstein used to make his model of the universe static.  Increase the cosmological constant and the universe will eventually contract, decrease it and it will continue expanding.  It relates to the average density of the universe, the denser the universe is, the more hold gravity has on its fate.

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Einstein used the cosmological constant as a way to justify a contracting universe and he eventually junked the idea. Now that the evidence points to an expanding universe some scientists have dug Einstein's cosmological contstant out of the garbage bin and dusted it off to fit an expanding universe. Many other scientists regard it as a simplistic cheat used to fill in the gaps.

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