Sure, space is full of planets, but we lowly humans have never actually seen one being born. Until now.
A research team led by Sascha Quanz claims it has found the protoplanet that will eventually evolve into a gas giant similar to Jupiter. Quanz said the discovery is "the first time we are seeing a planet forming inside its natal environment."
The team ran across the protoplanet while scoping out the star HD 100546, which has a disk of gas and rocks starting to swirl together, collapsing into its own mass. Some infrared tests confirmed that something is forming inside, so scientists plan to keep an eye on the body to see what they can learn in the coming years.
The team doesn’t know exactly how far along the protoplanet has developed, but it would likely take tens of thousands of years to form fully. Regardless, they can at least test their working theories against what they observe and see if it matches up.
(Via The Verge)