Planet Formation in Process

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Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:

  • Hubble images of forming exoplanet AB Aurigae b: NASA, ESA, Thayne Currie (Subaru Telescope, Eureka Scientific Inc.)
  • Computer simulation of Jupiter-like exoplanet formation: NASA/GSFC, AVL NCSA/University of Illinois
  • Illustration of forming exoplanet AB Aurigae b: NASA, ESA, Joseph Olmsted (STScI)

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Brandon Lawton
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits

Objects and gases of various colors in outer space. Text, News from the Universe
Graphic of a small white star in the center of a black circle. Text, Blocked Starlight. 2007, April 11, 2022. Planet Formation in Process
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has directly photographed evidence of a Jupiter-like exoplanet in the process of forming.
The discovery supports the less popular theory of formation by "disc instability" in the dusty material surrounding a young star.
Rather than building up size by slowly accumulating material, this planet appears to be forming from the disk itself as it cools and breaks up.
The planet is forming very far from its star – more than twice the distance from the Sun to Pluto – where building up material quickly is difficult.
Together with the ground-based Subaru Telescope, Hubble provided 13 years of data to support a formally underdog theory of Jupiter-like planet formation.
This news was brought to you in part by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD