A Dusty Disk Heralds the Birth of a New Solar System

November 6, 2014 12:01 PM

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I’ve studied newborn planetary systems off and on for quite some time now, including working on high-resolution Hubble observations of young nearby stars, so please listen when I say that this is the most amazingly detailed and beautiful image of a nascent solar system I have ever seen.

That is the dusty disk surrounding the star HL Tau, a very young orange dwarf star about 450 light years away. And I do mean young; it’s only about a million years old — the Sun is 4.6 billion years old, so this star is barely out of the womb. In fact, it’s not even really out of the womb: It’s stil...

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