Scientists may have seen the birth of two planets.
NASA said on its website that scientists have found two shadows in a ring of gas and dust around the star TW Hydrae, which is about 200 light years from Earth. They think that this means that two planets are being formed.
Scientists say it shows that two worlds are being built at the same time.
The study, which was published in the Astrophysical Journal, shows how Earth and other planets in the solar system may have looked when they were forming about 4.6 billion years ago.
NASA says that TW Hydraw, which is also called a “red dwarf,” is less than 10 million years old. These are the most common kind of stars, and they are the smallest ones in the milky way.
The Hubble Space Telescope took the data, which was then looked at by scientists.
Nasa says that the first shadow was seen in 2016 and the second shadow was seen 5 years later, which confused experts.
Dr. John Debes, who led the study, said, “We found out that the shadow had done something completely different.”
Dr. Debes, who is also a scientist at the US Space Telescope Science Institute, said, “When I first looked at the data, I thought something had gone wrong with the observation because it wasn’t what I was expecting. At first, I didn’t know what to do, and all of my coworkers were like, “What’s going on?”
He said, “We had to scratch our heads, and it took us a while to figure out what was going on.”
Researchers think that the two uneven disks tilt about five to seven degrees away from the plane of the outer disk, which makes the shadows. The gravitational pull of the two planets is thought to be the cause of this mismatch.
“It does show that the two planets must be pretty close to each other,” the lead author said. If one was moving much faster than the other, this would have been seen in earlier data.”
“It’s like two race cars that are close together, but one slowly passes the other and completes a lap,” Dr. Debes said.
Researchers also said that the orbital lines of the planets in the solar system tilt at different angles from each other.
They also said that the TW Hydrae shows scientists what our solar system might have looked like when it was young.
Scientists thought that the possible planets are in a region about as far from the Sun as Jupiter is, and that the shadows move around the star once every 15 years or so.
“This is right in line with how most buildings in the solar system are made,” Dr. Debes said.
The researchers went on to say that the outer disk has a strange gap at twice Pluto’s average distance from the Sun. This could be proof of a third planet in the star system.
However, any planets close to the star would be hard to find because their light would be lost in the star’s brightness and the dust around them would dim the light they reflect.