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This photo of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet puts Saturn to shame


Scientists have captured an unambiguous image of a moon-forming disc around an exoplanet, the first time such a thing has been imaged outside of our own solar system.

Using the Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers honed in on a still-forming solar system 400 light years away after earlier observations of the system determined that a pair of gas giants in the system – similar to our system's Jupiter-Saturn pairing – were still in the process of formation. 

The new image taken with ALMA is the clearest yet of the system's circumstellar accretion disc and was sharp enough to detect the circumplanetary disc around PDS 70c – so sharp in fact that astronomers are able to determine its diameter and mass.

“Our work presents a clear detection of a disc in which satellites could be forming,” said Myriam Benisty, a researcher at the University of Grenoble, France, and at the ...


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