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Birth of Planets Revealed in Astonishing Detail in ALMA’s ‘Best Image Ever’

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Astronomers have captured the best image ever of planet formation around an infant star as part of the testing and verification process for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array’s (ALMA) new high-resolution capabilities. This revolutionary new image reveals in astonishing detail the planet-forming disk surrounding HL Tau, a Sun-like star located approximately 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus. "These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disk. This is surprising since HL Tau is no more than a million years old and such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image," said ALMA Deputy Director Stuartt Corder (KU ASTR, PHSX BS, 2001). The complete NRAO press release can be found at this link.