Astronomers have found another alien planet and interplanetary system much like ours.
Astronomers discovered an exoplanet around a nearby stellar body, TW Hydrae, which resembles our sun; and they believe the mysterious planet could be a successor to Earth.
The strange celestial body was captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observatory recording images of related planets nearby. Scientists observed a plane of dust and gas with intermittent voids in which fledgling planets could be developing, the most intriguing one positioned the same distance from TW Hydrae as Earth is from the Sun.
The young planet, roughly 10 million years old, is greatly studied because it’s only 175 light years away from Earth, which directly faces observatories, perfect for detailed study. “TW Hydrae is quite special. It is the nearest known protoplanetary disk to Earth and it may closely resemble our Solar System when it was only 10 million years old,” said David Wilner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in a statement.
When researchers discover new planets, they subsequently focus on their habitable zones, interplanetary systems where life could exist. If their distance is too far or close to the sun, then water is unlikely to exist. Additionally, analogous rings have been spotted roughly 1.9 and 3.8 billion miles from the stellar body, distances equitable to Uranus and Pluto’s orbits within our solar system.
ALMA has also targeted other forming solar systems, such as HL Tau, a system estimated to be one million years old. Discoveries like these lead to further research into how systems change over time, which could inform the beginnings of Earth. Reported in Tech Times, the study was originally profiled in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.