The Amniotic Sac of a Star

Most planetary systems discovered so far have relatively little in common with our own. The planets are generally tightly packed around their star making them hot and inhospitable. Most planets are significantly larger than the Earth, and there are a significant number of “super-Earths”, planets in between Earth and Neptune in size. While many of these differences are due to observational selection effects (it’s much easier to see planets that are big and close to their star than it is to see a planet like the Earth which is small and relatively distant), after accounting for the selection bias planets like Earth seem to be less common than we thought ten or 20 years ago. In this episode of Walkabout the Galaxy we discuss observations indicating a relatively large planet has formed around a very young star at a distance along the lines of the Sun-Saturn distance. Perhaps this system will one day look like our own.