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Spitzer spies potential newborn planet
Posted: Fri, May 28, 2004, 10:35 AM ET (1435 GMT)
Protoplanet formation illustration (NASA/Caltech) Images from the Spitzer Space Telescope have turned up evidence of what may be a newborn planet forming around a young star. Images of the star CoKu Tau 4m only about one million years old, revealed a gap in the star's protoplanetary disk. That gap could be created by a planet forming in the disk and clearing out the material in and near its orbit. The studies are part of a survey of over 300 young stars in a stellar nursery called RCW 49, 13,700 light-years away; astronomers believe that all the stars there have protoplanetary disks of some kind. Other observations by Spitzer of nearby stars found what astronomers called the "raw ingredients" for life ™ water, carbon dioxide, and methane ™ in the icy dust particles in the disk.
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