Fomalhaut is a young star still surrounded by a vast disc of stellar dust, and a new image from the James Webb Space Telescope offers a beautiful insight into how solar systems form. Sky & Telescope:
Previously, Hubble, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and other telescopes have shown a far-out debris ring surrounding Fomalhaut that's akin to the Kuiper Belt in our solar system. Analysis of the system's brightness at different wavelengths had also suggested the presence of a dusty inner disk. Now, the new JWST images reveal unprecedented detail, including a new belt inside the first, an extended inner disk, and a gap between the two. They also show what might be a dust cloud in the outer, previously detected ring.
"My first thought was: 'Wow!'," remarks Samantha Lawler (University of Regina, Canada), who wasn't involved in the study. "I spent a lot of time imagining possible orbital configurations for this system, so I was super-excited to see these detailed JWST images showing new belts and a new dust cloud."
The glowy rings are the spectacular sight, but the gaps are interesting because that's where planets might be forming.