“TW Hydrae is quite special. It is the nearest known protoplanetary disc to Earth and it may closely resemble the Solar System when it was only 10 million years old.” -David Wilner

For hundreds of years since the realization that Earth and the other planets orbited the Sun, humanity had only hypotheses about how planets formed around stars. The consensus was that gas clouds collapsed along one direction first, forming a disk, which then rotated and formed instabilities, leading to the development of planetary systems.

Image credit: Mark McCughrean (Max-Planck–Inst. Astron.); C. Robert O’Dell (Rice Univ.); NASA, of protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula, some ~1300 light years away.

Image credit: Mark McCughrean (Max-Planck–Inst. Astron.); C. Robert O’Dell (Rice Univ.); NASA, of protoplanetary disks in the Orion Nebula, some ~1300 light years away.

Thanks to data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array, we’ve successfully imaged the very closest protoplanetary disk to us: TW Hydrae, at just 175 light years away, and it’s not only face-on to us, containing gas giants farther out, but likely at least one planet in the innermost ~1 A.U. of its solar system.

Image credit: S. Andrews (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), of the protoplanetary disk around TW Hydrae. Annotations by E. Siegel.

Image credit: S. Andrews (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA); B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), of the protoplanetary disk around TW Hydrae. Annotations by E. Siegel.

Go get the full story, and find what the frontiers of our knowledge are, over on Forbes!

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 2, 2016

    In addition to the ESO version (10 Mar 2016), the “as submitted” paper from 30 Mar 2016 is up on arXiv, http://arxiv.org/abs/1603.09352

  2. #2 Jeffrey Wolynski
    United States
    April 4, 2016

    Thank you for writing this. Unfortunately the protoplanetary disk model is outdated and falsified by hot Jupiters, rogue worlds, ocean worlds, eccentric Jupiters, exoplanets with retrograde orbits, lava worlds, etc.

    What you are seeing here is just evidence for a past collision event, you are observing a shrapnel field. No planets are forming here, they were destroyed here. You are looking at a grave yard, not a nursery.

    I am replacing the outdated paradigm with the theory called “stellar metamorphosis”.

  3. #3 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 4, 2016

    [citation needed]

  4. #4 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    April 4, 2016

    Self-citation is not sufficient, nor are unpublished preprints on vixra.org. Any actual published journal articles which have passed peer review?

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