How the Earth survived birth

For the last 20 years, the best models of planet formation—or how planets grow from dust in a gas disk -- have contradicted the very existence of Earth. These models assumed locally constant temperatures within a disk, ...

Twin Keck telescopes probe dual dust disks

Astronomers using the twin 10-meter telescopes at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii have explored one of the most compact dust disks ever resolved around another star. If placed in our own solar system, the disk would ...

The death of a planet nursery?

The dusty disk surrounding the star TW Hydrae exhibits circular features that may signal the formation of protoplanets. LMU astrophysicist Barbara Ercolano argues, however, that the innermost actually points to the impending ...

Want to make planets? Better hurry

Currently, astronomers have two competing models for planetary formation. In one, the planets form in a single, monolithic collapse. In the second, the core forms first and then slowly accretes gas and dust. However, in both ...

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