Astronomers have witnessed the creation of new planets in real time and captured the fascinating phenomenon using the famous Alma telescope. The clear image of the planets’ birth that has been traveling like a comet on the internet shows the planets forming around a “baby’ star.
Astronomers could see a vast disc of gas and dust and the dark rings that are forming are very visible. The gaps in the cloud are swept clear by other brand new planets that are orbiting.
The star at the center is called HL Tau and is less than a million years old and 450 light years away from our planet. The HL Tau is a sun-like start in the Taurus constellation.
The amazing photo showing the birth of new planets was taken by the Alma telescope which has an extremely high-resolution capacities. Capturing the process of planet formation is very difficult because of the immense clouds of dust surrounding it, making it very hard to be observed using visible light.
The official name of the Alma telescope is Atacama Large Millimeter/ submillimeter Array. The astronomers have used this one-of-a-kind telescope to capture the impressive photo using longer-than-usual wavelengths, which the telescope detects by comparing the signal coming from several antennas as far as 15 km apart.
The new high-resolution capability of Alma telescope has only been operating since September. To test it out, astronomers pointed the telescope at the young star HL Tau and were surprised to capture a “protoplanetary disc” more detailed and at a better resolution than ever.
One of the scientists, Dr. Aprajuta Verma from the University of Oxford said of the new discovery:
“I think it’s phenomenal. This shows how exciting Alma is going to be – it’s going to be an incredible instrument.”
The image taken by the Alma telescope matches the ones simulated on the computer.
Professor Tim de Zeeuv said of the new Alma telescope and what it captured that:
“Most of what we know about planet formation today is based on theory. Images with this level of detail have up to now been relegated to computer simulations or artist’s impressions.”