‘Toddler Planet’ Accidentally Spotted By a Team of Astronomers

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When looking at a young double star called CS Cha, an international team of astronomers realized they saw something else close to the binary star. It proves they were looking at a ‘toddler planet.’

Dutch scientists from Leiden University lead the team which discovered the baby planet. They believe that the planet is just at its beginning and that it will continue to grow.

The system they were looking at is called a double or binary star system, meaning that two stars orbit each other, and the place between them is called a barycenter.

The team will continue the study, and they will publish their findings in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Astronomers were looking at the 600 light years away constellation Chameleon. In it, they saw the binary star CS Cha and a ‘toddler planet.’

CS Cha is a new star, being born 2-3 million years away and scientists wanted to see a dust disc and planets around it. When astronomers investigated the binary star, they saw a small dot at an edge.

Hubble Space Telescope and The Very Large Telescope Saw the Small Dot Years Ago

To make sure it wasn’t a mistake, they looked into the archives of the telescope data. They saw the same dot in photos taken with the Hubble Space Telescope 19 year ago. The Very Large Telescope saw the dot and photographed it 11 years ago too.

The dot was moving with the binary star, but astronomers didn’t know where it came from or how it looks.

Christian Ginski of Leiden University, the lead author of the study explains why they’re so excited about the discovery of this planet:

“The most exciting part is that the light of the companion is highly polarised. Such a preference in the direction of polarisation usually occurs when light is scattered along the way. We suspect that the companion is surrounded by his own dust disc. The tricky part is that the disc blocks a large part of the light and that is why we can hardly determine the mass of the companion.”

Finally, astronomers have more questions than before. They now ask themselves if they’re looking at a brown dwarf or a “super-Jupiter in his toddler years,” added Ginski.

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Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.


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