For the first time, a ‘baby’ star has been captured just before ‘birth’ by astronomers – a breakthrough scientists believe could hold clues as to how our solar system formed.
The discovery provides the missing link in understanding how giant gas clouds collapse to form fully fledged stars.
The star’s swirling disk of dust and gas is the youngest still-forming planetary system yet found - and could help explain how our own solar system formed, the Daily Mail reported.
The infant is just 300,000 years old at most - compared to the 4.6-billion-year age of our Sun and its planets - and is more than 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.
“It may be even younger, depending on how fast it accumulated mass in the past,” John Tobin, a Hubble Fellow student at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in West Virginia, said.
The disk surrounding the young star contains at least enough ‘stuff’ to make seven Jupiters - the largest planet in our solar system.
“This very young object has all the elements of a solar system in the making,” Tobin said.
Called L1527 IRS, the young star resides in a stellar nursery known as the Taurus Cloud and is one of the closest examples of the earliest stage of star formation. Astronomers detected both dust and carbon monoxide around the object.
“In many ways, this system looks much like we think our own solar system looked when it was very young,” Tobin added.