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This Is What It Looks Like When Solar Systems Form

16 Apr 2018, 14:01 UTC
This Is What It Looks Like When Solar Systems Form NASA, ESA, ESO, M. Benisty et al. (University of Grenoble), R. Dong (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory), and Z. Zhu (Princeton University))

The star TW Hydrae. an analogue of the Sun and other sun-like stars, in its very early stages already shows evidence of new planets forming at various radii in its protoplanetary disk. S. Andrews (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)After generations of speculations, we’ve finally got the images that tell us the full story.Some 4.5 billion years ago, our Sun and Solar System were born from a collapsing cloud of gas, likely alongside many other stars.Artist’s impression of a young star surrounded by a protoplanetary disk. There are many unknown properties about protoplanetary disks around Sun-like stars, but observations are catching up. (ESO/L. Calçada)Over time, a protoplanetary disk forms, where imperfections will lead to young planets that eventually create full fledged solar systems.A large number of protoplanetary systems have been imaged, but the state-of-the-art infrared imager designed for exoplanet disk pictures is SPHERE, which routinely obtains resolutions of ~10", or less than 0.003 degrees per pixel. (SHINE (SpHere INfrared survey for Exoplanets) collaboration / Arthur Vigan)The details of how that work, however, have varied wildly depending on which stars we look at.

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