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Astronomers from the University of Hawaii have captured what they believe is the first direct image of the forming of a planet. Adam Kraus from the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy said the planet is forming out of dust and gas circling a star about 450 light years away. According to the current scientific understanding of how planets form, astronomers think the new planet, named LkCa 15 b, is the youngest ever observed and has been forming between 50,000 to 100,000 years. They say observing planets while they form can help scientists answer questions such as whether planets form early in the life of a star, or later in its lifespan.

Astronomers had never been able to see such young planets before because they bright light of the stars they orbit outshines them. New Technology made the new photos possible using a new technique, which removes distortions caused by the earth’s atmosphere and a masking technique allowing astronomers to see the faint planetary light next to the bright light of the star. Kraus said seeing the planet so early will answer basic questions that could only be answered by observing the early stages of the formation process. He plans to continue studying the star system and observe other planets that might form. He added, “We’re catching this object at the perfect time. We see this young star, it has a disc around it that planets are probably forming out of and we see something right in the middle of a gap in the disc.”

--Hawaii astronomer captures image of forming planet, http://news.yahoo.com/hawaii-astronomer-captures-image-forming-planet-230958310.html?utm_medium=ht&utm_source; October 20, 2011, Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell.

Psalm 8:3-5 (CEV) I often think of the heavens your hands have made, and of the moon and stars you put in place. (4) Then I ask, "Why do you care about us humans? Why are you concerned for us weaklings?" (5) You made us a little lower than you yourself, and you have crowned us with glory and honor.

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