Brave New Worlds

Astronomers say they’ve captured the most detailed image yet of planet formation around a young, sun-like star — and it’s pretty awesome.

Scientists believe the image, captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, will expand understanding of how planets form and how our own solar system came to be.

The image features the star HL Tau, which is approximately 450 light-years from Earth. The star is surrounded by a protoplanetary disk made of gas and dust. The gaps in the disk indicate that emerging planets orbit around the star, clearing dust from their path as they go.

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