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Astronomers see solar system being born

Dec. 5, 2012 at 3:08 PM   |   Comments

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Dec. 5 (UPI) -- U.S. astronomers say they've observed a young star with a rotating dust disk considered the youngest still-forming planetary system ever found.

The infant star surrounded by a swirling disk of dust and gas is more than 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory reported Wednesday.

While just one-fifth the mass of the sun, it will probably pull in material from its surroundings and eventually match the sun's mass, scientists said.

The disk of material surrounding the young star contains at least enough mass to make seven planets the size of our solar system's largest world Jupiter, they said.

"This very young object has all the elements of a solar system in the making," John Tobin of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory said.

The developing solar system is no more than 300,000 years old, astronomers said, compared to the 4.6-billion-year age of our sun and its planets.

"In many ways, this system looks much like we think our own solar system looked when it was very young," Tobin said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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