A stunning picture of the birth of a gas giant planet has been revealed by astronomers studying the formation of newborn stars.
The insight demonstrates for the first time how gas giants form 'bridges' with young suns as they are born.
Large planets use gravity to "channel" material between the disk of hot gas and other chemicals around a young sun.
By creating a bridge between the disk and the sun, they send material to both themselves and the star itself, helping it to grow.
While the process has been theorised by computer models the picture is the first time researchers have been able to see it at work.
The researchers used the partially-completed Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile to take the picture of a star about 450 light years from the Earth.
Above: the photograph of the young star HD 142527
The telescope - made up of 66 individual instruments - is able to capture objects in deep space with unprecedented detail.
The star - HD 142527 - was pictured at the centre of a massive disk of material, with vast jets of gas streaming from the outer edge to its core.
It shows how gas giant planets like Jupiter are able to suck in material from the massive hot disk of particles, from which solar systems are formed.
The sun pictured is already twice the size of our own, but is just two million years old and is still growing.
Gaps in the disk around it are created by planets coalescing in the proto-solar system, but the sheer size of the gas giants is able to bridge the gap between themselves and the sun.
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