News of the WeekAstrophysics

Images and Model Catch Planets As They Form

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Science  27 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5517, pp. 618
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5517.618a

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Astronomers think they've spotted evidence of the actual process by which protoplanetary ingredients grow into the finished product. In a paper published online today by Science (, researchers report on the first stage of planet formation: the growth of dust grains into significantly larger particles in the circumstellar dust and gas disks of the Orion nebula. They also describe a model showing how these larger particles can survive and grow in the often harsh environments where planets coalesce.