SPHERE reveals protoplanetary discs being shaped by newborn planets

9 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Three teams of astronomers have made use of SPHERE, an advanced exoplanet-hunting instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory, in order to shed light on the enigmatic evolution of fledgling planetary systems. The explosion in the number of known exoplanets in recent years has made the study of them one of the most dynamic fields in modern astronomy.


ALMA sees early stages of planet formation around a binary star

13 February 2016 Astronomy Now

To better understand how planets in binary star systems form and evolve, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array (ALMA) took a new, detailed look at the planet-forming disc around HD 142527, a binary star about 450 light-years from Earth in a cluster of young stars known as the Scorpius-Centaurus Association.


Mystery within the deep-frozen ‘Flying Saucer’

3 February 2016 Astronomy Now

Astronomers have made the first direct measurement of the temperature of large dust grains in the outer parts of a planet-forming disc around a young star. Observations of an object nicknamed the Flying Saucer reveals that the grains are much colder than expected. This surprising result suggests that models of these discs may need to be revised.