Image Credit & Copyright: European Southern Observatory (ESO) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
Here’s what will likely go down as one of the most if not THE most amazing image of 2014. What you’re looking at here is an actual image of a star system being formed before our eyes. The star cataloged as HL Tau is estimated to be about one million years of age resides about 450 light years distant in the constellation Taurus the Bull.
This proto-planetary or pre-planetary disk is literally showing us the ring of material around a young star that the star itself didn’t accrete during formation. The black or dark rings around the structure are locations where newly formed planets have likely cleared their path of travel just like the gaps in Saturn’s rings in the wildly beautiful Cassini images that we’ve seen for a decade now. It’s amazing to think that just 4.5 billion years ago, our solar system looked very similar to this.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is the world’s most highly advanced radio telescope. It’s comprised of 66 separate antennas which are spaced to a total diameter of 15 kilometers (9.3 mi.) and perched 5,000 meters (16,400 ft.) high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
Here’s the image and post I created about ALMA earlier this year: https://danspace77.com/2013/10/10/alma-the-most-powerful-radio-telescope-ever-built-is-ready-for-full-power/
NAME: HL Tau
WHAT IS IT?: Pre-planetary or proto-planetary disk which is a newborn star with an infant star system.
HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: About 450 light years.
HOW OLD IS IT?: Roughly 1 million years of age.
APPARENT MAGNITUDE: A very dim 15 or +15.
WHERE IS IT? (General): Constellation Taurus.
WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000): RA 04h 31m 38.47s / DEC +18° 13’ 57.6”.
ALMA press release of this event: http://www.almaobservatory.org/press-room/press-releases/771-revolutionary-alma-image-reveals-planetary-genesis