Rogue’s gallery of dusty star systems reveals exoplanet nurseries

June 24, 2020

GPI image gallery

Astronomers this month released the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of debris disks around young stars, showcasing the great variety of shapes and sizes of stellar systems during their prime planet-forming years. Surprisingly, nearly all showed evidence of planets.

“It is often easier to detect the dust-filled disk than the planets, so you detect the dust first and then you know to point your James Webb Space Telescope or your Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope at those systems, cutting down the number of stars you have to sift through to find these planets in the first place,” said Tom Esposito, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley.

Esposito is first author of a paper describing the results that appeared June 15 in The Astronomical Journal.

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