Something never quite added up in the conventional model of solar system formation. It dictates that planets are formed from the accretion disc around a young star, but it also dictates that a star continues to feed off the same material as it grows and matures. So how do both bodies grow using a limited supply of elementary particles?
According to new research out of the ALMA radio telescope observatory in the Atacama Desert, the two celestial objects essentially share the resources between them — at least that’s how a newly discovered system 450 light-years away is doing it. The star sucks down the inner portion of the disc — which causes a tell-tale stream of carbon gas to flow back to the system’s centre — while the planets form in the outer zone.
To see what ALMA actually saw, head on over to PopSci.
Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/M. Kornmesser (ESO)