Credit: ESO

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescope ALMA has taken an incredibly sharp photo. A photo that shows the birth of a solar system as it is slowly beginning to build up around the young star HL Tauri. HL Tauri is located about 450 light years from our solar system.

“These features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disc. This is surprising since such young stars are not expected to have large planetary bodies capable of producing the structures we see in this image,”

– Stuart Corder, ALMA Deputy Director.

Comparison of HL Tauri with the Solar System. Credit: ESO

Catherine Vlahakis who is the scientific assistant project manager for ALMA and project manager for ALMA long baseline campaign said in a statement on the ESO website; “When we first saw this image we were astounded at the spectacular level of detail. HL Tauri is no more than a million years old, yet already its disc appears to be full of forming planets. This one image alone will revolutionize theories of planet formation,”

Director of ESO Tim de Zeeuw, also comments the finding, “Most of what we know about planet formation today is based on theory. Images with this level of detail have up to now been relegated to computer simulations or artist’s impressions. This high-resolution image of HL Tauri demonstrates what ALMA can achieve when it operates in its largest configuration and starts a new era in our exploration of the formation of stars and planets,”.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) began its scientific observations in the second half of 2011 and has been fully operational since March 2013.
Revolutionary ALMA Image Reveals Planetary Genesis