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Thursday, January 24, 2002

Planet Findings

(MSNBC) Using huge telescopes like the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, along with new techniques, researchers are examining disks of material around very young stars, hunting for infant planets that would prove other solar systems like ours are possible -- other places that could harbor life when they mature. "We’re just now really starting to be able to trace the birth of planets, and to do it in detail," says Ray Jayawardhana of the University of California at Berkeley. While dust thwarts optical astronomy, it can be revealing when studied in infrared and radio wavelengths. Jayawardhana and other scientists are racing each other to exploit this fact. The prize: claim to the first picture of a planet around another star. It could come within two years, Jayawardhana says. Other dust-fed findings should soon reveal secrets of solar system formation, likely demonstrating a range of ways and ends that will render our nine-planet system common.

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- posted by Alex @ 17:56 EST