SETI Institute's Franck Marchis interview "Watching a baby planet's birth" on Cosmo magazine

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Planetary scientists have spotted an infant gas giant hatching from a cloud. Richard A. Lovett reports. 

The first glimpse of a new baby is a happy event. Just ask the astronomers who spotted a Jupiter-like baby planet – the youngest planet ever directly observed through a telescope.

Stephanie Sallum and her colleagues at the University of Arizona in Tucson reported their baby gas giant, seen in the very act of forming, in Nature in November. “It’s something that we’ve never had a direct view of before,” says Katherine Kretke, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The baby gas giant supports a key theory about how planets form. And it’s helping raise expectations that within a decade, astronomers will be directly observing Earth-like planets, says Franck Marchis, an astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) in California, who also works in exoplanet detection.

A mere quarter of a century ago, few astronomers thought they’d ever get to see planets orbiting other stars. They were too far away from Earth and too close to their stars to be detected. Even today, distinguishing the infant planet  - it's called LKCa 15b - was a feat.

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