Astronomers believe that they have found the first evidence of the birth of a new planet in the solar system.
Researchers have spotted a dense disc of dust and gas surrounding a young star called AB Aurigae, about 520 light years away from Earth. It has a “twist” in the centre which may mean that a new world is in the process of being formed.
The swirling disc was one of the telltale signs of the star system being born in the constellation of Auriga, the scientists said.
Dr Anthony Boccaletti, who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, France, says, “Thousands of exoplanets have been identified so far, but little is known about how they form.
“We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form,” he added.
The twist is the very bright yellow region near the centre of the spiral. It lies at about the same distance from the star as Neptune from the Sun.
Until now astronomers had been unable to take clear images of young discs to see these twists. This spotting was conducted using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), located in Chile.
These observations are reported in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.