Planets form from vast disks of gas and dust, known as protoplanetary disks, encircling newborn stars. These disks can extend for billions of kilometers. Over time, the particles in protoplanetary disks collide, combine, and accrete into planet-sized bodies.
Improved observations of the details of the evolution of these planet-forming discs are now being made using ESO’s SPHERE instrument mounted on the Very Large Telescoped, improving our understanding of the enigmatic evolution of fledgling planetary systems. The central parts of the images appear dark because SPHERE blocks out the light from the brilliant central stars to reveal the much fainter structures surrounding them. Bands appear as the forming planets begin to sweep their orbits clean.
Image Credits: ESO