From ESO-Cast. A new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. These are the first observations that have used ALMA in its near-final configuration and the sharpest pictures ever made at submillimetre wavelengths. The new results are an enormous step forward in the observation of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.
For ALMA’s first observations in its new and most powerful mode, researchers pointed the antennas at HL Tauri — a young star, about 450 light-years away, which is surrounded by a dusty disc. The resulting image exceeds all expectations and reveals unexpectedly fine detail in the disc of material left over from star birth. It shows a series of concentric bright rings, separated by gaps.