EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Protoplanetary disc. Artwork of a protoplanetary disc (glowing red) surrounding a young star (yellow). This is an extended, flared disc, which is thought to be a precursor to the flatter and thinner disc that is present during the later stages of planet formation. This artwork is based on observations of the 2.5 solar mass star HD 97048, made by the VISIR infrared instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The results were published in 2006, HD 97048 is 600 light years from Earth, in the constellation Chameleon. The disk is larger and more massive than our solar system, but as the star is short-lived it is unlikely that advanced life will form here.
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