ALMA Telescopes Observe Formation Of New Solar System


Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) Observatory in Chile, a team of researchers were able to observe the early stages that would lead to the formation of a new solar system.

New Solar System Located 450 Light-Years Away

The observation was made on a protostellar system located about 450 light-years away, or about 30 million times the distance between planet Earth and the sun.

The findings, which were reported in a study published in the journal Nature, revealed for the first time how powerful whirlwinds shoot out from disks of gas and dust that rotate around a protostar, a contracting mass of gas that represents the early stages in the formation of a star.

Scientists earlier thought that the rotating wind comes from inside of the center of the rotating disk of dust and gas, but the new observations made by ALMA indicate otherwise.

"These data show that gas is ejected from a region extending up to a radial distance of 25 astronomical units from the central protostar, and that angular momentum is removed from an extended region of the disk. This demonstrates that the outflowing gas is launched by an extended disk wind from a Keplerian disk," the researchers wrote in their study.

Formation Of A New Solar System

The new solar system formed in a contracting and condensing cloud of dust and gas as a result of the forces of gravity. It eventually become so compact that its center collapsed into a ball of gas. The pressure that heats the materials results in the formation of the star, a glowing blob of gas.

Per Bjerkeli, from the University of Copenhagen said that the material starts to increasingly rotate as the gas cloud contracts and that rotation can only slow down if the energy is carried away, which would happen if the young star emits wind.

What remains of the gas and dust cloud surrounds the newly formed star in disks, where the materials begin to accumulate and form bigger clumps that eventually become planets.

ALMA Observatory

ALMA, which consists of 66 telescopes, is the most powerful observatory in the world for conducting studies of the universe at the long-wavelength millimeter and submillimeter range of light. The observatory has so far observed a birth of a triple star system and the formation of an icy giant planet.

The researchers hope that the new findings could improve current understanding on the process behind the formation of a solar system.

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