Sculpting solar systems
Three protoplanetary discs being shaped by newborn planets.
Sharp new observations have revealed striking features in planet-forming discs around young stars.
Recently published results from three teams of astronomers using the SPHERE instrument, mounted on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, have made it possible to observe the complex dynamics of young solar systems – including one developing in real-time.
It uses advanced adaptive optics to remove atmospheric distortion, a coronagraph to block most of the light from the central star and a combination of differential imaging and polarimetry to isolate the light from features in the disc.