Monday, April 7, 2008

Baby planet found

A colleague at St. Andrews announced this past week that she had observed a protoplanetary bulge around HL Tau. I previously wrote on the difficulties of figuring out how planets formed, because basically it seems that it takes such a relatively short time to form planets, and because forming systems don't necessarily lend themselves to easy observation.

I might argue that it is difficult to say that this is a planet instead of a brown dwarf, but this is pretty new territory. We can see it forming in the disk of a star (which is traditionally defined a planet), but it seems to be a bit above the deuterium burning limit of 13 Jupiter masses.

In any case, kudos to Jane and her team for pushing the limits knowledge of exoplanets.