ALMA finds protoplanetary disks depicting planet formation

The leading models for planet formation hold that planets are born by the gradual accumulation of dust and gas inside a protoplanetary disk, beginning with grains of dust that coalesce to form larger and larger rocks, until asteroids, planetesimals, and planets emerge.

Significance of these observations:

According to the researchers, the most compelling interpretation of these observations is that large planets, likely similar in size and composition to Neptune or Saturn, form quickly, much faster than current theory would allow.

It may also help explain how smaller rocky planets manage to survive in the chaos of young systems.

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an international partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

ALMA is a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile.

ALMA allows scientists to unravel longstanding and important astronomical mysteries, in search of our Cosmic Origins.

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