20 Incredible New Images Show How Planets First Form Around Stars
“The best portraits of protoplanetary disks, however, arise from ALMA.
ALMA’s crisp images are striking.
Its Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP) has just released their first results, revealing 20 nearby protoplanetary disks.
Most have gaps, rings, and easily-identifiable locations where candidate planets may lie.”
In theory, there’s a similar cosmic story behind practically every star and solar system that forms. From a nebula, gas collapses, giving rise to a series of proto-stars with protoplanetary disks around them. Those disks develop gaps in them as planetesimals and early planets form, while the growing, heating central star(s) blow off the volatile material. It then becomes a race between gravitation to grow these masses into full-blown planets, mutual interactions which can cause ejections and mergers, and the hot star that can prevent planets from forming if they do so too slowly. For a very long time, this was relegated to pure theory, but observations, particularly in the last 4 years, are not only validating this picture, but showing us how it works.