A star, called TW Hydrae, thought to be too old for planet making has been found possibly forming new planets. The old star is 10 million years old and 176 light years from Earth. NASA reports
that astronomers using European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope found that the star may be big enough to make fifty more Jupiter-sized planets as the artist's illustration shows above.
Adwin Bergin, an astronomer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and leader of the study, said in the announcement, "We didn't expect to see so much gas around this star. Typically stars of this age have cleared out their surrounding material, but this star still has enough mass to make the equivalent of 50 Jupiters."
Herschel is sensitive enough to measure the levels of hydrogen deuteride surrounding a star, which enables astronomers to measure the weight of a star's disk and star making potential.
Paul Goldsmith, the NASA project scientist for Herschel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a release, "Before, we had to use a proxy to guess the gas quantity in the planet-forming disks. This is another example of Herschel's versatility and sensitivity yielding important new results about star and planet formation."
The research study was published here
in the journal, Nature