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Post by Rogue on Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:51 am

Astronomers Have Taken An Actual Picture Of Planets Forming And It’s Incredible
It’s the sharpest photograph ever taken by the world’s biggest astronomical project.
Nov. 7, 2014, at 6:37 p.m.

Planets Forming  Enhanced-buzz-wide-6285-1415353316-7
This image shows actual planets forming around an actual infant star 450 light years away from us.
ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The star at the centre of the system is called HL Tau and is in the constellation Taurus as you look from Earth. The orange disk that surrounds it is made up of dust and gas.
The dark bands in the image are where the gas and dust has been swept up by newly formed planets as they orbit the star.

The star system is only around a million years old, making it incredibly young compared to our own 4.6 billion-year-old solar system.

The photo was taken by a telescope called the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. ALMA detects light between the radio and infrared parts of the spectrum, and is the largest astronomical project in the world. Astronomers tested its new high-resolution capabilities by taking the photograph you can see above.

ALMA combines light from 66 individual antenna on the Chajnantor plateau, at 5000 meters above sea level in northern Chile, to create images of space at a better resolution than we’ve ever seen before.

Catherine Vlahakis, ALMA Deputy Program Scientist, said:
When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail. HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionize theories of planet formation.
Via almaobservatory.orghttp://www.almaobservatory.org/en/press-room/press-releases
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Post by Rogue on Fri Nov 07, 2014 8:54 am

Planet-forming Lifeline Discovered in a Binary Star System
29 October 2014

Planets Forming  141029_ALMA_tauri_01
For the first time, researchers using ALMA have detected a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disc toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disc of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets. The results are published in the journal Nature on October 30, 2014.

A research group led by Anne Dutrey from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France and CNRS used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the distribution of dust and gas in a multiple-star system called GG Tau-A [1]. This object is only a few million years old and lies about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull).

Like a wheel in a wheel, GG Tau-A contains a large, outer disc encircling the entire system as well as an inner disc around the main central star. This second inner disc has a mass roughly equivalent to that of Jupiter. Its presence has been an intriguing mystery for astronomers since it is losing material to its central star at a rate that should have depleted it long ago.

Fig. 1: This artist’s impression shows the dust and gas around the double star system GG Tauri-A. Researchers using ALMA have detected gas in the region between two discs in this binary system. This may allow planets to form in the gravitationally perturbed environment of the binary. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

While observing these structures with ALMA, the team made the exciting discovery of gas clumps in the region between the two discs. The new observations suggest that material is being transferred from the outer to the inner disc, creating a sustaining lifeline between the two [2].

"Material flowing through the cavity was predicted by computer simulations but has not been imaged before. Detecting these clumps indicates that material is moving between the discs, allowing one to feed off the other," explains Dutrey. "These observations demonstrate that material from the outer disc can sustain the inner disc for a long time. This has major consequences for potential planet formation."

Planets are born from the material left over from star birth. This is a slow process, meaning that an enduring disc is a prerequisite for planet formation. If the feeding process into the inner disc now seen with ALMA occurs in other multiple-star systems the findings introduce a vast number of new potential locations to find exoplanets in the future.

The first phase of exoplanet searches was directed at single-host stars like the Sun [3]. More recently it has been shown that a large fraction of giant planets orbit binary-star systems. Now, researchers have begun to take an even closer look and investigate the possibility of planets orbiting the individual stars of multiple-star systems. The new discovery supports the possible existence of such planets, giving exoplanet discoverers new happy hunting grounds.

Emmanuel Di Folco, co-author of the paper, concludes: "Almost half the Sun-like stars were born in binary systems. This means that we have found a mechanism to sustain planet formation that applies to a significant number of stars in the Milky Way. Our observations are a big step forward in truly understanding planet formation."
http://www.almaobservatory.org/en/press-room/press-releases/770-planet-forming-lifeline-discovered-in-a-binary-star-system
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Post by Agartha on Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:32 am

Amazing!!!! It looks like an artist's illustration, but it's not, it's a real pic!!! What an incredible picture... we can actually see the process of how dust and gas start orbiting around their sun and eventually become round planets.... beautiful!!
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Post by Kaere on Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:01 pm

*bounces on toes*

Excellent stuff Very Happy

Almost can't wait for my next life, I think I'll choose an adventure on one of these new ones lol
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