Gaseous Umbilical Cord Ties Mother Stars To Baby Planets

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)

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