The most detailed image to date of new planets forming around a star have been captured by the Alma radio telescope.
The sun-like star at the centre of the vast disc of dust and gas is HL Tauri, less than a million years old and 450 light years from Earth in the constellation Taurus.
“It’s like a dream that’s come true. I mean, people have thought about it for 20 years and now we see it. So it’s like an epiphany, something exceptional and also exceptional in the lifetime of an observatory,” explained Pierre Cox, Alma Director.
It’s believed this latest development could transform theories about planet formation.
The images were made possible by Alma’s new high-resolution capabilities. It is based high in the Chilean desert and until now most of what astronomers knew about planet formation was based on theory.