Alien Planet Photo: New Gas Formation Discovered, Resembles Jupiter! [PHOTO]

By iScience Times Staff Reporter on March 1, 2013 7:54 PM EST

alien planet photo
The alien planet photo shows a protoplanet that is roughly the size of Jupiter. It's presumed to be surrounding a young star named HD 100546 that's located roughly 335 light-years from planet Earth. (Photo: eso.org)

An alien planet photo has been making its way around the web ever since a Chilean telescope spotted a giant gas ball orbiting a nearby star. The solar system where the gas formation was found is also suspected of holding another large planet orbiting closer to the star HD 100546. For astronomers, this finding may have a huge impact in the way we understand how planets are birthed.

The alien planet photo shows a protoplanet that is roughly the size of Jupiter. It's presumed to be surrounding a young star named HD 100546 that's located roughly 335 light-years from planet Earth. If the alien planet photo proves to be a legitimate discovery, it is likely to have a tremendous impact on the way that astronomers understand how planets form. Astronomers will be given an opportunity to test existing theories against a specific planet formation.

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The alien planet photo that is being circulated was snapped by the European Southern Observatory's "Very Large Telescope" in Chile. The photograph, which can be hard to decipher, shows a large ball in a thick area of gas and dust -- all of which are surrounding the young star HD 100546. Scientists are predicting that the alien planet is a gas giant planet that's similar to Jupiter.

"So far, planet formation has mostly been a topic tackled by computer simulations," said international team leader Sascha Quanz (ETH Zurich, Switzerland). "If our discovery is indeed a forming planet, then for the first time scientists will be able to study the planet formation process and the interaction of a forming planet and its natal environment empirically at a very early stage."

The giant gas blog that has been featured in the alien planet photo appears to fit the hypothesis that scientists have developed about how worlds are born. "Stars themselves are born in clouds of gas and dust, and after the form, a disk of leftover material often orbits them. From this disk, baby planets can take shape. That's what appears to be happening here," reports Yahoo News.

"Exoplanet research is one of the most exciting new frontiers in astronomy, and direct imaging of planets is still a new field, greatly benefiting from recent improvements in instruments and data analysis methods," said Adam Amara, another member of the team. "In this research we used data analysis techniques developed for cosmological research, showing that cross-fertilization of ideas between fields can lead to extraordinary progress."

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