Release Images

Release No.: 2005-17
For Release: Monday, June 13, 2005 - 8:00pm

SMA Confirms Proto-Planetary Systems are Common in the Galaxy

A Hubble Space Telescope view of a small portion of the Orion Nebula reveals five young stars. Four of the stars are surrounded by protoplanetary disks, or "proplyds," of gas and dust. These disks might evolve into solar systems like our own.

C.R. O'Dell/Rice University; NASA

These are Hubble Space Telescope images of four newly discovered protoplanetary disks around young stars in the Orion nebula, located 1,500 light-years away. The red glow in the center of each disk is a young, newly formed star, roughly one million years old. Each image is 167 billion miles across (30 times the diameter of our own solar system). The disks range in size from two to eight times the diameter of our solar system.

M. McCaughrean (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy), C.R. O'Dell (Rice University), and NASA