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Protoplanetary discs finally seen in unrivalled detail

11 Apr 2018, 14:58 UTC
Protoplanetary discs finally seen in unrivalled detail
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The disc around IM Lupi is shown in spectacular detail, emphasises the clarity of the SPHERE instrument. Image credit: ESO/H. Avenhaus et al./DARTT-S collaboration
The European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) has released stunning new images revealing several dusty discs surrounding nearby young stars in unprecedented detail. There is an unusual variety of shapes, sizes and structures that appear in these new images, as well as the likely effects of planetary formation. Images reveal a lot about the making of planets in their early years, and could even help reveal how our Solar System came to what it is now.
At the Paranal Observatory in Chile, the VLT can be found and attached to the telescope is the pristine Spectro-Polarimetric High-Contrast Exoplanet Research Instrument (SPHERE) instrument. SPHERE has the rare capability to suppress the bright light of nearby stars in order to gather a clearer view of the regions surrounding them. These new images are only just a selection of the wide range of dusty discs found around young stars.
These discs appear to vary greatly in shapes and sizes. Some of the discs contain bright rings, other dark rings and there are even the odd ones that ...

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