US and Australian astronomers cancel out light from solar cloud to reveal a new planet: LkCa 15 b.
(Left, the shining dust and gas cloud around the star LkCa 15. Right, an expanded view of the central region)
The astronomers Adam Kraus, from Univerity of Hawaii; and Michael Ireland, from Macquarie University; have captured the first direct image of a planet forming around a star. It’s called Dubbed LkCa 15 b and is the youngest planet ever found, about five times younger than the previous record holder.
It is 450 light years away from Earth and being built by dust and gas.
(View near the planet LkCa 15 b)
In the past, scientists couldn’t measure this kind of phenomenon because it’s happenning so close the star, and their parent solar systems’ light outshines them.
Kraus and Ireland used an optical trick that consists in combining the telescope’s “adaptive optics” with a technique called aperture mask interferometry: “It’s like we have an array of mirrors and we can manipulate the light and cancel out distortions”, Kraus said.
This technique allows the astronomers to remove the bright light of stars, so they can resolve discs of dust around stars and see gaps in the dusty layers where protoplantes may be hiding.
(A closer shot of LkCa 15 b)
Now, they had found a planet, perhaps even a future solar system and it’s very beginning.
Kraus and Ireland will continue their planet search around nearby young stars.
I taked this article from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/oct/20/youngest-planet-ever-found-lkca15b .
The original source is http://iopscience.iop.org/0004-637X (Astrophysical Journal) but tha article is not published in it at the moment.
I chose this article because is interesting how astronomers did to find the planet and I think these thechnics can be useful to search another planets, or even futures solar systems.