This dramatic artist’s conception, released January 2 by the European Southern Observatory, illustrates an early stage in the growth of a gas giant.
The image shows the star HD 142527, in the center, surrounded by two rings of gas and debris—the inner (orange-yellow) ring and an incomplete outer ring that forms more of a horseshoe shape around the young star.
Astronomers believe that the bright streams bridging the gap between the rings are caused by a planet sucking up gas from the outer ring as the giant grows. Researchers have directly observed this process for the first time using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). (Related: “Stars Can Strip Gas Giants Naked.”)
Source: National Geographic
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