December 8, 2012 - An international group of astronomers using the Submillimeter Array
and the Combined Array for Millimeter-Wave Astronomy has found evidence of what might be youngest still-forming solar system
The protostar, labeled L1527 IRS, resides in a stellar nursery called Taurus Cloud in the constellation Taurus about 450 light-years from Earth. It is about 300,000 years old, compared to the 4.6-billion-year age of the Sun.
“It may be even younger, depending on how fast it accumulated mass in the past,” said Dr John Tobin
of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory
in Charlottesville, lead author of the study published in the journal Nature (arXiv.org version).
The young star currently has about one-fifth the mass of the Sun, but will likely pull in material from its surroundings to eventually match the Sun’s mass. The disk surrounding the star contains at least enough mass to make seven Jupiters.
“This very young object has all the elements of a solar system in the making,” Dr Tobin said.
The astronomers detected both dust and carbon monoxide around L1527 IRS, and were able to measure the mass of the protostar itself.