14:12 GMT20 June 2021
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    Science still has a great deal to learn about the birth of celestial objects, but it is known that planets form out of disks of gas and dust around newly forming stars. Currently, scientists have the instruments to make direct observations and gain insight into how the solar system came into being.

    According to new research, scientists believe they have observed small planet and embryo moons 370 light years away from Earth.

    Speaking with the Science Daily, astronomer at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Andrea Isella explained that planets form out of disks of gas and dust around newly forming stars.

    If a planet is large enough, it can form its own disk, accumulating material in its orbit around the star.

    In their observations scientists found evidence of a dust-filled disk, known as a circumplanetary disk, around a young star named PDS 70c.

    Scientists say pictures from the ALMA observatory in Chile show a faint red disk of dust circling a planet which orbits PDS 70 - a structure similar to the one that gave birth to Jupiter’s many moons.

    Earlier, researchers found two planets - PDS 70c and PDS 70b - which orbit the young star.

    “Jupiter and its moons are a little planetary system within our solar system, for example, and it's believed Jupiter's moons formed from a circumplanetary disk when Jupiter was very young.

    “For the first time, we can conclusively see the telltale signs of a circumplanetary disk, which helps to support many of the current theories of planet formation,” said Isella.

    The scientists say that upon comparing their observations to high-resolution infrared and optical images, it becomes clear that what was otherwise just a concentration of tiny dust particles is in fact a planet-girding disk of dust – the very first ever spotted.

    Andrea and his colleagues used a massive 66-antenna to collect millimetre wave radio signals that showed the dust grains around PDS 70c.

    At the start of the research they believed what they were looking at was just gas, but subsequently they realised it was circumplanetary disks, or in other words, the structure that a moon grows from.

    Isella added there is a great deal we still do not know about how planets form, but today science offers the instruments to make direct observations and get an actual glimpse into the process of their formation and answer the intriguing question of how the solar system came into being.

    The expert said they would be able to come back to this system at different periods and map the orbit of the planets and the concentration of dust in the system.

    The observations would offer unique insights into the early stages of orbital properties of solar systems.


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