Astronomers have detected a beautiful spiral pattern in the disk of material around a young star. It looks like the gas in the disk is somehow stirred up, probably by one or two planets. Young stars are surrounded by flat disks of gas and dust. The star AB Aurigae is no exception. From Earth, we see the disk almost exactly

ALMA has imaged a broad band of dust and pebbles around a distant star. There’s one problem, though: the inner edge of the band lies further away from the star than expected. The discovery may hint at the presence of an as-yet-undiscovered planet. The star (HR 8799) is known to be accompanied by four giant planets. The planets have even

ALMA captures ‘bubble-blowing star’

What does this nebula look like? A soap bubble, right? When you’re blowing soap bubbles, their outer rims are most conspicuous, even though the thin layer of soap has the same thickness everywhere. With this ALMA image, it’s the same. You’re not looking at a ring of glowing gas, but a nice, round bubble. It’s just that the outer rim

In some countries, more babies are born than in others. With galaxies, it’s the same: some galaxies have a much higher birth rate of new stars than others. Astronomers have studied six of those so-called starburst galaxies with the ALMA observatory. In five of them, they discovered large amounts of cool turbulent gas, surrounding the galaxies. ‘Turbulent’ means that the

The planet Saturn is known for its beautiful rings. But Saturn also has dozens of moons. The largest one is called Titan. It’s a bit larger than the planet Mercury and a bit smaller than Mars. And it’s the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere. Astronomers already knew that the atmosphere of Titan contains lots of

A young star in the constellation Sagittarius (the Archer) is orbited by two infant planets. The planets were found by ALMA. They’re about twice as large as the planet Saturn in our own solar system. Planets orbiting other stars have been found before. But in this case, the planets are still forming. They’re baby planets. The two baby planets have

Suppose you live in a very big house, with lots of families, each one with many children. Every month or so, a new baby is born, so you know all about it. You wonder about childbirth in other houses. But the nearest big house is many miles away, and the houses in your neighborhood are all small, with just one

When our Milky Way galaxy was still young, billions of years ago, it was smaller and more chaotic than it is now. It also contained huge amounts of cold molecular gas – the stuff that stars are born from. At least, that’s the conclusion that astronomers draw from new ALMA observations. Of course, ALMA cannot see what the Milky Way

Surprise: ALMA finds lots of gas around heftier stars

Morning fog disappears when the sun rises. Can you imagine what happens when the sun would be much hotter and brighter? The fog will disappear much sooner, of course. Astronomers believed that the same would be true for newborn stars. They are often surrounded by disks of dust and gas. So you would expect that the gas – a form

If you want to cook up a nice meal, you need the right ingredients. Without beans, you can’t make a good chili. And to bake an apple pie, you need apples, of course. In the Universe, it’s the same. The available ingredients determine what can be ‘cooked up’. One of the most special things that have formed in the Universe