In the infinite cosmos, planets are birthed from the swirling disc of gas and dustthat form around young stars.
In our own Solar System, this disc was relatively stable and flat, resulting in Earth and other planets of the Solar System all orbiting on the same plane.
But not all planets may be so lucky. Recent observations of a strangely warped disc in the Orion constellation reveal it was likely torn apart by its own stars — a catastrophic process. The disfigured disc may in turn give rise to even stranger planets, a new study suggests.
The new finding is detailed in a study published Thursday in the journal Science.
Using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA,) a team of astronomers found the first direct evidence that stars can tear apart the planet-forming, or circumstellar, disc that surrounds them. The result is a broken-apart disc with a misaligned inner ring, where a giant planet may soon form.