The Missing Link in Planet Formation Theory, Discovered By Scientists


There are a couple of theories on how planets form. One of them says that planets born from small asteroid-like rocks know as Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects. Even though the scientists predicted the presence of these objects in the distant regions of the Solar System, it’s virtually impossible for current-generation telescopes to observe them since they are too remote and too dim. However, is a new study, the scientists might have discovered the missing link in that planet formation theory.

Astronomers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) are now pretty sure they’ve spotted an Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects, a so-called planetesimal. The missing link in planet formation theory, as the researchers called it, has been identified by employing a very straightforward method.

The astronomers set up two telescopes to observe more than 2,000 stars in the sky over 60 hours. Then, by using the so-called occultation method which involves “monitoring a large number of stars and watching for the shadow of an object passing in front of one of the stars,” as the scientists reported.

Scientists Discovered the Missing Link in a Planet Formation Theory

Using the before-mentioned technique helped the astronomers spot a planetesimal, a small asteroid-like rock, also known as Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Object. The discovery will play a considerable role in astronomy since this study is the first ever to prove the existence of planetesimals.

“This is a real victory for little projects. Our team had less than 0.3 percent of the budget of large international projects. We didn’t even have enough money to build a second dome to protect our second telescope! Yet we still managed to make a discovery that is impossible for the big projects,” said Ko Arimatsu from NOAJ.

Now, the scientists wonder if there is any chance to find some more Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt Objects. However, the discovery of a planetesimal might represent the missing link in one planet formation theory. Nonetheless, the existence of such a space object makes the planet formation theory based on planetesimals more probable now.


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