Protoplanetary Disks

Protoplanetary discs observed with SPHEREPlanets 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

Planets Being Formed

ALMA image of the planet-forming disc around the young, Sun-likeThis image from data taken by ESO’s  Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) shows the planet-forming disc around the young, Sun-like star TW Hydrae. The inset image zooms in on the gap nearest the star, which is at roughly the same distance as the Earth is from the Sun. The additional concentric light and dark features represent other planet-forming regions farther out in the disc.

Image Credit: ESO