Scientists may have just snapped photos of alien Earth
Scientists likely have captured pictures of an alien Earth at an early stage. The latest photographs, captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, have revealed that the planet-forming disk surrounding a close by sun like star known as TW Hydrae has a gap at nearly the same distance from the star as that of between Earth and the sun.
In a statement, study lead author Sean Andrews, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said that earlier studies using optical and radio telescopes have confirmed that the star has a well known disk with features that clearly indicate that the planets could soon start forming.
Andrews added, “The new ALMA images show the disk in unprecedented detail, revealing a series of concentric, dusty, bright rings and dark gaps, including intriguing features that suggest a planet with an Earth-like orbit is forming there”.
Researchers said that the actual size that the newly forming planet will have isn’t known so far. It can possibly grow up to be roughly as large as Earth, or it may end up as a ‘super-Earth’, which would be much bigger than our planet. However, it could still remain smaller compared to the ice giants Uranus and Neptune.
Born approximately 10 million years back, the star TW Hydrae is present just 175 light-years from our planet, and its protoplanetary disk faces Earth, which has set it as the main target for astronomers.
In the same statement, study co-author David Wilner, also of the CfA, said that TW Hydrae is very special. Wilner added that it is closest known protoplanetary disk to our planet, and could closely look like our solar system at the age of just 10 million years old.