September 12, 2005 | David F. Coppedge

Planets Can Form Rapidly

Observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope, announced in a JPL press release, “pose a challenge to existing theories of giant planet formation, especially those in which planets build up gradually over millions of years.”  Three young stars show clearings in dust disks surrounding them, suggesting that gas giant planets inhabit the clearings and must have been formed in a million years or less.  Instead of growing slowly like giant redwoods, these new planets must have sprung up quickly like wildflowers, the report describes.  This is an update on the 10/18/2004 findings from Spitzer.  See also Science Daily and Space.com.

OK, now that we know that planets can form in far less time than textbooks have claimed for centuries, can we finally ditch the mythical age of our solar system?  Can we entertain the notion that many phenomena in our solar system look young, because they actually are?  (See 08/30/2005, 09/06/2005, 06/30/2005, 03/22/2005, 03/11/2005, 06/05/2003 and other chain links on Dating Methods).   The only one who needed the billions of years was Charlie, and he’s dead.

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