Astronomers have released stunning high-resolution images showing the disks of dust and gas swirling around 20 young stars outside of our solar system.
In a first of its kind survey, an international team used the Atacama Large Millimeter/ millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile for a large-sample investigation of these distant protoplanetary disks.
The study has revealed new insight on the potential abundance of Neptune- or Jupiter-sized young planets in other corners of the Milky Way, and suggests our solar system may not be entirely unique.
Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas say the 20 nearby protoplanetary disks observed in the study suggest there may be a greater number of large, young planets in our galaxy that previously expected.
These have been left undetected due to the limitations of most planet-searching techniques used today.
But with ALMA, the team was able to image nearly two dozen protoplanetary disks, which could themselves contain young planets.