From National Geographic News: Star May Be Forming Rocky Planets
November 15, 2007—The violent formation of a new solar system has left one heck of a mess around a nearby star—and suggests that Earthlike planets may be far more common than previously believed, scientists say.Not for nothing, but don't these artists who illustrate for astronomers freaking rock? Amazing.
Using an infrared camera on the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii, researchers recently detected heat that they believe originates from massive amounts of warm space dust surrounding HD 23514, a hundred-million-year-old member of the nearby Pleiades star cluster. The well-known cluster, also called the Seven Sisters, is located about 400 light-years from Earth.
"This is the first clear evidence for planet formation in the Pleiades, and the results we are presenting strongly suggest that terrestrial planets like those in our solar system are quite common," study leader Joseph Rhee, a postdoctoral student at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement.
The research is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal.