How did we come to encircle the sun? Why do we orbit as we do, and why are other planets circling the big orange globe with us? Those are questions we may understand to some degree, but a new finding may shed light on how it all really began. A young star has been discovered with some very small planets beginning to form around it, with their orbit already being decided. It may not be the birth of our universe, but it’s very similar.
Viewed with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, HL Tauri may be one of the most impressive astronomical findings ever. The star has been seen with small rings in it’s protoplanetary disc. According to scientists, those rings in the space dust were carved by small planets orbiting the star.
Just like our Earth was to the sun some 4 billion years ago.
Stuartt Corder, Deputy Director at ALMA, said “these features are almost certainly the result of young planet-like bodies that are being formed in the disc.” ALMA Deputy Program Scientist Catherine Vlahakis noted “This one image alone will revolutionize theories of planet formation.”
As these small planets hurdle through space, and dust, they collect debris and dust themselves, growing is size. Over time — lots of time — HL Tauri could end up similar in scope to our solar system.
It may not take as long as previously believed, though. A young star like HL Tauri was previously thought not to have the capability to attract orbital bodies as it is. Now that we can observe this new solar system in the process if birth, scientists will be keeping a watchful eye on it, especially as a window to our past.