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Telescope Captures First Image Of New World Forming Around A Star 

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Old 10-20-2011, 05:03 PM
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Telescope Captures First Image Of New World Forming Around A Star

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A University of Hawaii astronomer used the twin 10-metre Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to capture the first direct image of a planet forming around a star.
The scientists used mirrors to 'cancel out' starlight. It's usually impossible to capture such 'births' because the parent star's light outshines them.
The planet - called LkCa 15 b, is hot 'protoplanet' surrounded by cooler dust and gas, which is falling into the still-forming planet. LkCa 15b will become a Jupiter-like gas giant.

LkCa 15 b is 450 light years away from Earth and is 'building itself' out of dust and gas. This impression by University of Hawaii artists shows how the planet sits near the star, while a disc of dust lies further out. It's the youngest planet ever found:


The Institute for Astronomy says Adam Kraus used the telescopes on Mauna Kea - the world's largest optical/infrared telescopes - to find the planet. He was working with Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
Kraus presented the discovery Wednesday at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

'LkCa 15 b is the youngest planet ever found, about 5 times younger than the previous record holder,' said Kraus. 'This young gas giant is being built out of the dust and gas. In the past, you couldn’t measure this kind of phenomenon because it’s happening so close to the star. But, for the first time, we’ve been able to directly measure the planet itself as well as the dusty matter around it.'

Four of the scans that allowed astronomers to 'see' LcKa 15d - and realise that it was surrounded by a 'disc' of dust that showed it was still forming:

The optical sleight of hand used by the astronomers is to combine the power of Keck’s adaptive optics with a technique called aperture mask interferometry. The former is the use of a deformable mirror to rapidly correct for atmospheric distortions of starlight.
The latter involves placing a small mask with several holes in the path of the light collected and concentrated by a giant telescope. With that, the scientists can manipulate light waves.

'It’s like we have an array of small mirrors,' said Kraus. 'We can manipulate the light and cancel out distortions.'
The technique allows the astronomers to cancel out the bright light of stars. They can then resolve disks of dust around stars and see gaps in the dusty layers where protoplanets may be hiding.

'Interferometry has actually been around since the 1800s, but through the use of adaptive optics has only been able to reach nearby young suns for about the last seven years.' said Dr. Ireland. 'Since then we’ve been trying to push the technique to its limits using the biggest telescopes in the world, especially Keck.'

'LkCa 15 was only our second target, and we immediately knew we were seeing something new,” said Kraus. 'We could see a faint point source near the star, so thinking it might be a Jupiter-like planet we went back a year later to get more data.'

In further investigations at varying wavelengths, the astronomers were intrigued to discover that the phenomenon was more complex than a single companion object.

'We realized we had uncovered a super Jupiter-sized gas planet, but that we could also measure the dust and gas surrounding it. We’d found a planet at its very beginning,' said Kraus.

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Old 10-20-2011, 08:28 PM
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Cosmiiic (said in a Rodney Trotter voice)

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Old 10-21-2011, 12:30 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of Ne World Forming Around A Star

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Originally Posted by Kelly View Post
LkCa 15 b is 450 light years away from Earth and is 'building itself' out of dust and gas.
Considering that the galaxy where our solar system resides (The Milky Way Galaxy) is approximately 100,000 light years across, yet still on our proverbial "doorstep" universe-wise, LkCa 15 b is essentially in our lap from a galaxial standpoint. Now consider just how many stars in our galaxy alone likely have planets in their systems. Now consider that there are likely 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Feeling insignificant yet?

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Old 10-21-2011, 03:16 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of Ne World Forming Around A Star

I feel pretty small......

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Old 10-21-2011, 03:39 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of Ne World Forming Around A Star

We see LkCa 15 as it looked about 450 years ago. Nice post!

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Old 10-21-2011, 05:39 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of Ne World Forming Around A Star

Awesome theorys.Kelly always has badass posts.

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Old 10-21-2011, 07:10 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of New World Forming Around A Star

a new astronomy discovery every other day it seems

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Old 10-21-2011, 07:13 AM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of New World Forming Around A Star

great... another planet we can soon travel to and destroy..

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Old 10-24-2011, 04:38 PM
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Re: Telescope Captures First Image Of New World Forming Around A Star

I hope Heaven is outer space. Love it

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