A new finding shows 20 sharp images of proto-planetary disks that has never been seen like this before. Proto-planetary disks are the early stages of planetary systems forming, there are endless possibilities for life planets to form and if they are located in at a good distance from their star, then the chance for habitable life to form is likely. And now we have 20 high-resolution images that reveal gaps and rings in the disks around a very young newborn star.
The reason this is so important and exciting is because the rings and gaps we see are the early stages of dusty, icy materials accumulating and coalescing into what can eventually become planets. Typically this process will take around 5 million years to form, however these 20 proplyds imaged are only 1 million years old!!! They are extremely young to already have well defined structures in their disks. This means there may be some unseen planets interacting with It usually is a gradual process of icy dust and gas accumulating towards the center of the disk, this is when dust grain condense accumulate to form rocky clusters, asteroids, planetesimals and eventually planets. This can give us insight and answers to how Earth truly formed and all the other planets in our very own solar system.
The research being done is by the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP). Which is a “Large Program” of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ALMA imaged an entire population of proplyds and collected data and passed it over to DSHARP where they were then able to measure the density distribution of small solid particles found around young stars.
ALMA was able to distinguish features as small as a few Astronomical Units! (An Astronomical Unit is the average distance of the Earth to the Sun – about 150 million kilometers). They were able to see gaps at about 3x the distance of where Neptune would be in our solar system (just to compare). THEY LIKE ZOOMED IN ON THE NEIGHBORHOODS of these early planetary systems… imagine someone else 2,000 lightyears away can look at us and our planets and our sun just hanging out. And as I said early these gaps that were found can give us a better understanding of how rocky planets, LIKE US, form. Let’s see what more ALMA and DSHARP will find!