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Space Science

Nearby Star Could Host a Baby Solar System 24

astroengine writes "With the help of Europe's Herschel Space Observatory and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a team of astronomers have made a lucky discovery about TW Hydrae, the nearest star to the solar system that plays host to a protoplanetary disk. Not only have they gained a more precise estimate of the mass of the material inside the protoplanetary disk, they've also found that it may produce a system of worlds similar to that of the solar system. TW Hydrae may look like the solar system did over 4 billion years ago (abstract). Interestingly, TW Hydrae is also a star that would normally be considered too mature to host a protoplanetary disk. "If there's no chance your project can fail, you're probably not doing very interesting science. TW Hydrae is a good example of how a calculated scientific gamble can pay off," said Thomas Henning, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg."
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Nearby Star Could Host a Baby Solar System

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  • Could Host a Baby Solar System

    Could Host? Oh wow!

    • I think it means it could form a baby solar system, because it contains to materials and mass required for it to start to form. Remember, our universe is still forming new stars even to this day, planets may also be forming, and if we can (over an extremely long period of time) watch that happen, that would be amazing.

  • This is exciting. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sheetrock (152993) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:28PM (#42741791) Homepage Journal
    Typically, you only get one of these around a newly formed star, a T Tauri star, or Herbig Ae/Be star. This discovery really broadens the scope for the types of stars that could yield solar systems like our own, and maybe in turn, the likelihood for finding some sort of extraterrestrial life.
    • Re:This is exciting. (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:39PM (#42741943) Homepage

      This stuff always amazes me. About 20 years ago when I hung out with astrophysics geeks, we were just on the cusp of being able to be in a position to start identifying exoplanets.

      Now we find them all over the place, surrounding stars we never thought would be able to have them. Hell, I think the estimates for the number of planets which would exist was vastly smaller than what we know now.

      The universe is far more vast and complex than we've ever guessed ... and we just keep finding new stuff. And that's friggin' awesome.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        The world is a big enough place. The universe is substantially bigger.

      • Nixon was the last president to balance a budget until Clinton.

        He did it by cancelling the rest of the Apollo program, and converting it into a clusterfuck called Skylab.

        I remember Apollo being the highpoint; it's been downhill since.

        Imagine if We'd spent the several Trillion dollars we wasted on Afghanistan and Iraq on a Space Program instead.

        That would have been awesome.

  • by envelope (317893) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @03:46PM (#42742029) Homepage Journal

    Whats an appropriate gift for a baby solar system shower?

  • Before we've got to deal with insurgent aliens in the future.

  • No, it's the nearest T Tauri type star (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]). The nearest star to Sol should be Proxima Centauri IIRC.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux