TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - University of Arizona researchers say they captured the first photo of a planet in the making.
They captured a shot of an entity orbiting LkCa15, a young star with a transition disk around it. Inside a gap in that disc -- a birthplace for planets -- a planet is forming 450 light years away from earth.
"This is the first time that we've imaged a planet that we can say is still forming," says Stephanie Sallum, a UA graduate student, who with Kate Follette, a former UA graduate student now doing postdoctoral work at Stanford University, led the research.
Of the 2,000 known planets that orbit a star other than the sun, only 10 had been photographed, and all of those have been well after they became planets.
"No one has successfully and unambiguously detected a forming planet before," Follette says. "There have always been alternate explanations, but in this case we've taken a direct picture, and it's hard to dispute that."
The research was published in the Nov. 19 issue of Nature.