Astronomy is all about our origin: where do we come from? What is the origin of the Earth and the Solar System? Are we alone in the Universe? How did life start on Earth, and if it started here, what are the possibilities of life on planets outside of our Solar System, the so-called exoplanets? These questions and more are being addressed by planet formation researchers, and the next-generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) telescope will provide a transformative leap in the search for these answers.
With the discovery of thousands of exoplanets (planets around other stars) in the last two decades, the mysteries surrounding the formation of our Solar System have been transformed into a much more complex question:
How can we better understand the diversity of exoplanets? How can we study the vast differences, in size, type and orbits, of planets in planetary systems outside our own?
In order to find these answers, we need to go back to the beginning and investigate the formation of planets. Unfortunately, we cannot use a time machine to travel back and witness how our solar system was first formed. Instead, to study the birth of planets we look to younger ...