Artist’s concept of a protoplanetary disk around a star (left) and the “soup” of organic molecules in the disk (right). Image via M.Weiss/ CfA.
Planets are born in cosmic soups
Soup lovers know that there are many different kinds of soup, with a wide variety of tasty ingredients to make them unique. On September 15, 2021, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released new evidence related to the “cosmic soups” around stars, from which distant exoplanets form. These cosmic soups are the mix of chemicals in protoplanetary disks around the young stars. These disks are the birthplaces of planets. Astronomers have now mapped out the ingredients – the chemicals in five different protoplanetary disks – in extraordinary detail. They’ve found that, just as with the culinary favorites on Earth, no two cosmic soups are alike.
Astronomer Karin Öberg of CfA led the mapping project.
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No fewer than 20 new peer-reviewed papers, collectively named “Molecules with ALMA at Planet-forming Scales (MAPS),” have been accepted for publication (pending) in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement. They ...