Feb 2, 2013
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA recently reported (Jan 30th) that a star that was once thought to be “past its prime” in terms of making planets is still in fact creating new worlds. TW Hydrae, which is roughly 176 light years away and over 10 million years old, has been well studied since it is so similar to Earth in terms of astronomical standards. Using the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Telescope, it was revealed to NASA scientists that the star still has enough gas and mass to produce the equivalent of 50 Jupiters, which is way more planets than are even in our solar system.
The findings of this are extremely significant not only because of the picture that it paints of the exotic solar system that it will most likely form but because it demonstrates a better method of measuring and weighing out dead stars, otherwise known as “planet-forming disks”. “Knowing the mass of a planet-forming disk is crucial to understanding how and when planets take shape around other stars,” said Glenn Wahlgren, Herschel program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
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To find out more on how dead stars make planets, visit here.