<p>A new picture of a gassy disk around a young star suggests that unseen planets may be forming about 456 light-years away. The near-infrared image of the star SAO 206462 was captured by the <a href="http://www.naoj.org/">Subaru Telescope</a> in Hawaii.</p><p>Astronomers think that planets are born in the disks of debris that circle young stars, but the material is often too dense to see newly forming worlds directly. (Related: <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/02/110222-planets-formation-theory-busted-earth-science-space/">"Three Theories of Planet Formation Busted, Expert Says."</a>)</p><p>Previous models had suggested that a single embedded planet would produce a spiral arm on each side of such a disk. But the arms around SAO 206462 aren't exactly matched, hinting at the presence of two newborn worlds, one for each arm.</p>

Planet in Progress?

A new picture of a gassy disk around a young star suggests that unseen planets may be forming about 456 light-years away. The near-infrared image of the star SAO 206462 was captured by the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.

Astronomers think that planets are born in the disks of debris that circle young stars, but the material is often too dense to see newly forming worlds directly. (Related: "Three Theories of Planet Formation Busted, Expert Says.")

Previous models had suggested that a single embedded planet would produce a spiral arm on each side of such a disk. But the arms around SAO 206462 aren't exactly matched, hinting at the presence of two newborn worlds, one for each arm.

Image courtesy NAOJ/Subaru

Space Pictures This Week: Baby Planets, "Magic" Mirrors, More

Hints of planets being born, reflections of swirling stars, and a massive comet storm feature among the best space pictures this week.

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