Astronomers removed very distant planet-forming disks around stars located hundreds of light-years from Earth. It is extremely rare to obtain images of disks similar to vinyl records – they will help astronomers better understand how planetary systems are formed. This is stated in a study by scientists from the Catholic University of Leuven, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
In order to understand how planetary systems are formed, including the solar system, it is necessary to study their origin. Planet-forming or protoplanetary disks form together with the star that they surround.
Dust and dust gas in them form the nuclei of the planets, which eventually turn into full-fledged planets – and the details of this process are known to scientists only partially. For example, planets such as the Earth are formed at a distance of less than five astronomical units from the star.
Using infrared information, scientists obtained images of protoplanetary disks located around stars hundreds of light-years from Earth. Then, using mathematical reconstruction, they restored the images by pixels and removed the light of the star, which greatly influenced the detail of the images.
“In these images, areas close to the star where rocky planets form are covered with only a few pixels. We needed to visualize these images in detail in order to be able to determine the patterns that are responsible for the formation of the planets. I am very glad that we managed to get 15 such images”.
Jacques Clusca, lead author of the study