Science

Scientists capture first ever image of planet being born

Scientists capture first ever image of planet being born

Astronomers have captured this image of a planet that's still forming in the disk of gas and dust around its star.

A stunning, first-of-its-kind photo shows a huge, newfound alien world taking shape in the disk of gas and dust surrounding a young star. The planet stands clearly out, visible as a bright point to the right of the centre of the image, which is blacked out by the coronagraph mask used to block the blinding light of the central star.

The researchers' analyses suggest that PDS 70b is two to three times bigger than Jupiter and lies about 1.9 billion miles (3 billion kilometers) from its star - about as far as Uranus is from the sun. But PDS 70b is far from an icy space outpost: its surface temperature is a scorching 1832 degrees Fahrenheit.

"PDS 70b, which is found in the large gap of its parental disk, now finally confirms that planets do play an important role in the formation of these gaps", said Keppler, who works at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany snapped the spectacular picture of a planet forming around the star PDS 70 from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

'The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc'.




The observations revealed the presence of a newborn gas giant in PDS 70's surrounding protoplanetary disk.

Both studies used the hi-tech capabilities of ESO's SPHERE instrument, which uses a technique called high-contrast imaging to filter out the signals of planets from stars.

André Müller, leader of the second team to examine the young planet, said: "Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution". This is the first time they've actually been able to detect a separate baby planet.

"We have never seen a convincing case of a planet around a young star to guide our understanding of planet formation", Thomas Henning, a lead author of the connected paper about PDS 70b, told The Outline in an email.

Thanks to the discovery, researchers are now confident that they can test their theories on how planets are formed.


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