Researchers purport that the enormous spiral clouds of cosmic dust, now ever more frequently being discovered in Space, could be hiding unknown planets, writes the Daily Mail newspaper.
Astronomers believe that this discovery could not only help them find new celestial bodies but also offer insight into how planets are formed.
Even though astronomers have cataloged thousands of planets orbiting around other stars, the earliest stages of planetary development remain elusive.
This is because planets are born within the gigantic, pancake-like disks of dust and gas that encircle newly formed stars, known as circumstellar disks.
The theory is that planets can reveal their whereabouts by any changes in these disks. It is based on detailed computer modeling of the way in which the spiral-shaped clouds develop around newly formed stars.
"It's difficult to spot any potential planets inside the bright clouds encircling young stars, " says Ruby Dong from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "Based on these studies, we are now convinced that planets can gravitationally alter the structure of the spiral cloud."
"So if you can see the new shape of the disk and familiarize yourself with its characteristics, you can gain a realistic idea about the type of planet that will form there, " adds Dong.
This approach can help astronomers find out when and how planets formed due to the fact that the phenomena they are witnessing actually happened millions of years ago but because of the speed of light, we on Earth are just seeing them now.
However, the spiral arms around the newly discovered star SAO 206462 are leading researchers to theorize that within the cloud of dust hides a planet that could be Earth's twin.
The basis for this is the fact that the formed spirals are much more unstable. The spinning of the disk around the star is similar to Earth's orbit around the Sun and the actual cluster of cosmic dust is not as dense.
For now this is only a hypothesis but the scientists are continuing their work on the find.See more