Planet-forming disks


Webb Shows Planets Really Do Start with Pebbles

New observations have turned up evidence that icy pebbles deliver the water to inner regions of planet-forming disks.

Cutaway diagram of protoplanetary disk, which flares out away from star


Water on Earth Might Predate the Solar System

Astronomers studying the water vapor around a newborn star find that it’s chemically similar to ice in solar system comets, a possible source of Earth’s oceans.

HL Tau by ALMA

Citizen Science: Projects & Collaboration

Citizen Scientists Detect Dusty Disks

Disk Detective, a citizen science project dedicated identifying planet-forming disks around young stars, reports their latest results.

Protoplanetary debris cloud (artist's concept)


“Lucky” Images Reveal Dusty Debris Around a Star 330 Light-years Away

The transit of a large cloud of protoplanetary rubble across the face of a young star gave the Spitzer Space Telescope our best view yet of planetary evolution in action.

Dimethyl ether detection in protoplanetary disk


Largest Molecule Yet Found in Planet-forming Disk

The detection of a complex organic molecule in the disk around an infant star suggests prebiotic chemistry starts in the space between stars.

the PDS 70 circumstellar disk


Astronomers Detect Potential Moon-forming Disk around an Exoplanet

Astronomers have made the first clear detection of a dusty disk surrounding an exoplanet, which could eventually go on to form moons.

Dust and gas of Elias 2-27's disk shown in composite


Gravitationally Unstable Disk May Collapse to Form Planets

Astronomers investigate the spiral arms of a young star's disk and find evidence of a disk so massive that it could collapse to form planets.

Stellar Science

Flapping "Bat Wing" Could Reveal Secrets of Planet Formation

The shadow cast by a protoplanetary disk takes the shape of a bat — and over time, flaps like one, too. The eery shadow could help astronomers understand the planet-forming material inside the disk.


Planets Appear More Massive Than Disks Where They Form

Infant worlds might gobble up dust quickly, the interstellar environment might feed protoplanetary disks, or planet-building dust could be hiding in plain sight. Although disks of gas and dust around young stars are a necessary precursor to planet formation, an expanded survey of stars in our Galaxy confirms earlier doubts…

PDS 70b


First Confirmed Image of Newborn Planet

Astronomers using a new instrument on the Very Large Telescope in Chile have directly imaged a newborn planet.

Protoplanetary disk


Planet-forming Disks Revealed in Striking Images

Three teams of astronomers used the SPHERE instrument on the Very Large Telescope to image protoplanetary disks around nearby stars and catch planet formation in action.

IRS 43's Tilted Disks


Two Stars, Three Planet-forming Disks

A young pair of stars hosts three potentially planet-forming disks, and all three of them are wildly tilted with respect to each other.

Protoplanetary disk

Stellar Science

Light Echoes Map Planet-forming Disk

Light’s finite speed helped astronomers pinpoint the location of the “inner wall” of the disk of dust and gas that’s feeding a fast-growing baby star.

A Gravitationally Unstable Circumstellar Disk (Model)

Stellar Science

Stars Form in Turbulent Times

New images of four circumstellar disks suggest that the star formation process is much more violent than previously thought.

Artist's conception of star formation

Stellar Science

New Clues in Cooking up Planets and Stars

An early peak at a forming star system reveals tantalizing clues about its origin.

Professional Telescopes

Hidden Treasures in Hubble Images

A new processing technique has revealed once-invisible planetary disks encircling five stars imaged in Hubble’s archive.