Legacy Astronomical Images > Miscellaneous Series > Protoplanetary Disks Unit


A protoplanetary disk is formed when an interstellar gas cloud begins to contract or collapse under the force of gravity. The cloud then begins to rotate rapidly and flatten into a disk due to the conservation of angular momentum. This rotating disk may break up into many smaller condensations which form asteroids or protoplanets. The protoplanets then grow into full-size planets by attracting more material from the surrounding interstellar medium.

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Protoplanetary Disk NGC 2071
Description: Left: The distribution of water maser spots in a protoplanetary disk. The disk is centered with the radio continuum jet which is emanating from the central star. It is believed that the water masers trace the rotational motion of the protoplanetary…

Protoplanetary Disks in Molecular Cloud LDN 1551
Description: Scientists used the VLA to make this image of a stellar nursery -- a giant cloud of gas and dust called LDN 1551 -- some 450 light-years distant in the constellation Taurus, where stars the size of the Sun or smaller are being formed. They aimed at…

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