The ALMA image showed gaps in the disk, presumably caused by planet-like bodies sweeping out the dust along their orbits. This image, showing in real life what theorists had proposed for years
The new VLA images revealed a distinct clump of dust in the inner region of the disk. The clump, the scientists said, contains roughly 3 to 8 times the mass of the Earth. “We believe this clump of dust represents the earliest stage in the formation of protoplanets, and this is the first time we’ve seen that stage,” said Thomas Henning, of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA).
“This is an important discovery, because we have not yet been able to observe most stages in the process of planet formation,” said Carlos Carrasco-Gonzalez from the Institute of Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics (IRyA) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “This is quite different from the case of star formation, where, in different objects, we have seen stars in different stages of their life cycle. With planets, we haven’t been so fortunate, so getting a look at this very early stage in planet formation is extremely valuable,” he added.
The image has been released by scientists working with the Atacama Large Array and shows a young star known as HL Tau complete with a disk of dust and gas from which planets form.
HL Tau is believed to be as young as just a million years and the image released gives a tantalizing glimpse of planetary formation similar to our own solar system with one of the new planets at a similar distance from its star as Earth is from ours
Knight of Ni
from the thread Scientists Image Planets Forming Around Nearby Star HL Tau
It is a beautiful thing, this image. This is confirmation of a basic tenet. In other words, this is HUGE!