A stunning new image released today by ESO provides evidence of how massive planets like Jupiter formed
A stunning new image released today by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) provides useful clues about how massive planets like Jupiter formed. Using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), researchers have detected large clumps of dust, near a young star, which can collapse and create giant planets.
The work is based on a mesmerizing image taken with the High Contrast Exoplanet Search (SPHERE) instrument in ESO’s VLT that shows exquisite detail of the material around V960 Mon, a young star more than 5,000 light-years away in the constellation of the Unicorn that suddenly caught astronomers’ attention in 2014 when it increased more than twenty times in brightness. SPHERE observations made shortly after this “burst” of brightness began revealed that material orbiting V960 Mon coalesces into a series of complex spiral arms that extend across distances greater than the entire Solar System.
So this discovery spurred astronomers to analyze archival observations of the same system made using ALMA, of which ESO is a partner. VLT Notes They scan the surface of the dusty material around the star, while ALMA can go deeper into the structure. Astronomers believe that giant planets are formed either by “primary accretion,” when dust grains stick together, or by “gravitational instability.” When large pieces of material around stellar nodes collapse. While researchers did find evidence to confirm the first of these scenarios, support for the second scenario remained scarce.
The very large telescope
ESO’s instruments will help astronomers uncover more details about this fascinating planetary system under construction and all that Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) From ESO you will play a key role. Currently under construction in the Chilean Atacama Desert, ELT will be able to monitor the system in greater detail than ever before and gather important information.
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