Astronomers Watch as New Earth-Like Planet Forms

424 light-years away, materials clump together around young star
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2007 2:45 PM CDT
This artist's conception provided by NASA Wednesday Oct. 3, 2007 shows a binary-star, or two-star, system, called HD 113766, where astronomers suspect a rocky Earth-like planet is forming around one of...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A massive belt of dust swirling around a young star 424 light-years away could be evidence of a second Earth in the making, reports. Astronomers observing the area through a NASA space telescope say many of the conditions for forming an Earth-sized planet are present, including moderate temperatures allowing for liquid water.

Roughly 10 million years old, the star is the right age for forming a potentially habitable planet, and the dust around it is the proper mix for a rocky orb. "The timing for this system to be building an Earth is very good," one astronomer said. This year, scientists discovered possibly two Earth-like planets around a star 20.5 light-years away.