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Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Planet Incubator

(CNN) - Astronomers speculate that the Earth and its siblings originated in a dust ring around the sun, much like the one enshrouding the young star Beta Pictoris. The observations provide some of the strongest evidence that planets form in such stellar dust disks, according to two independent teams of astronomers that announced the discovery this week. The Beta Pictoris data show multiple warps in the stellar disk, which likely indicates the presence of one or more planets, according to the scientists. "We've seen disk features before that could be due to planets. To date, however, most of these were discovered far outside the region [analogous to] where planets reside in our own solar system," astronomer David Koerner said in a statement. "And plausible nonplanetary explanations have been found for some of them." The distortions in the dust ring around Beta Pictoris, however, occur much closer in, at distances comparable to the giant gas planets in our solar system.

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- posted by Alex @ 23:34 EST