‘Little hurricanes’ around young stars can help astronomers measure infant exoplanets

Young stars are surrounded by chaos: Clouds of gas, dust and ice swirl about in a so-called protoplanetary disk. And when gravity pulls this material together so that it binds, planets are born.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, researchers developed a new technique to measure and date infant exoplanets forming in these protoplanetary disks. By studying “little hurricanes” within protoplanetary disks that are visible in ALMA data, astronomers can make educated guesses about the exoplanets that caused these vortices.

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