Today, we have news from the Very Large Telescope about AB Aurigae, a young variable star 520 light-years away. When observed in the infrared, a spiral in the disk of gas and dust in this system indicates the presence of a forming planet at a Neptune-like distance from the star. This multiple-instruments finding multiple ways to find planets at different stages in their formation is going to allow us to build a complete understanding of planet formation… eventually. These are early days, with each new world getting a shiny new press release to announce its imaging. It’s only after this becomes a normal thing to image that we’ll begin to have enough data to really understand what’s going on.
“Are We Witnessing Ongoing Planet Formation in AB Aurigae? A Showcase of the SPHERE/ALMA Synergy“, A. Boccaletti et al., 2020 May 20, Astronomy & Astrophysics (Preprint from ESO)