New snapshots of dusty disks provide unprecedented looks at how worlds evolve around stars akin to our sun. The Hubble Space Telescope captured a picture of starlit asteroidal and cometary debris encircling the yellow dwarf star HD 107146. At 30 million to 250 million years old, it is a younger cousin of our 4.5-billion-year-old sun, but based on the size of its ring, astronomers believe HD 107146 will end up with a wildly different system, perhaps with giant worlds in eccentric orbits. This discovery, announced December 9, joins those from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which examined six sunlike stars known to have planets and discerned disks of rubble leftover from the formation of these worlds. These findings should help refine models of planetary development and guide future planet-hunting missions, such as the NASA Space Interferometry Mission.
This article was originally published with the title "Planet-Making 101"