Youngest solar systems discovered

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Washington, Nov 30: Astronomers have claimed to have discovered the youngest solar systems ever.

Researchers from University of Michigan have found new solar systems around the young stars 'UX Tau A' and 'LkCa 15' which are about one million years old.

They are located in the Taurus star formation region just 450 light years away, Science Daily reported.

Using a telescope, that measures levels of infrared radiation, the researchers noticed gaps in the protoplanetary disks which is a rotating disk of dense gas surrounding a young newly formed star.

They say those gaps are most likely caused by infant planets sweeping those areas clear of debris.

''Previously, astronomers were seeing holes at the centers of protoplanetary disks and one of the theories was that the star could be photoevaporating that material,'' said Espaillat, first author of the paper.

Photoevaporation refers to the process of heating up the dust and gas in the surrounding cloud until it evaporates and dissipates.

''We found that in some stars, including these two, instead of a hole, there's a gap,''Espaillat said.

''It's more like a lane has been cleared within the disk. That is not consistent with photoevaporation. The existence of planets is the most probable theory that can explain this structure, '' he explained.

The researchers used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope for this study.

The findings by astronomy doctoral student Catherine Espaillat, professor Nuria Calvet, and their colleagues is published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.


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