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Galileo's Pendulum

The beauty of planetary birth

9 Nov 2014, 15:44 UTC
The beauty of planetary birth
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Many astronomical images are beautiful. People especially love pictures of spiral galaxies or planetary nebulas, but some others evoke a gradual sense of beauty. In science, beauty comes with knowledge: knowing what you see reveals why something is beautiful. The image above is one such: it’s fuzzy and not particularly colorful, but when you know […]

An amazing view of the protoplanetary disk around the newborn star HL Tauri. The dark rings are places where new planets are forming, along with places where gravity from those planets causes ripples in the debris. [Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ); C. Brogan, B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)]Many astronomical images are beautiful. People especially love pictures of spiral galaxies or planetary nebulas, but some others evoke a gradual sense of beauty. In science, beauty comes with knowledge: knowing what you see reveals why something is beautiful. The image above is one such: it’s fuzzy and not particularly colorful, but when you know what it represents, the beauty comes through.
It’s the image of a newly forming planetary system. We’re seeing the protoplanetary disk around a newborn star. The dark ovals in the picture are lanes where planets have swept up gas and debris to make themselves. If we ...

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