Published: Tue, July 03, 2018
Sci-tech | By Brandy Patterson

Astronomers captured the first image of a baby planet


As shown in the photo above, the birth of the planet PDS 70b from the disk gas and dust surrounding dwarf star PDS 70 was captured by the ESO's Very Large Telescope. The image was captured by the Sphere instrument of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.

The bright point to the right of the image center is planet PDS 70b.

"These discs around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected hints of baby planets in them", said Dr Miriam Keppler. The young planet is absolutely scorching, with a surface temperature topping 1,000 degrees Celsius. This, in turn, enables scientists to test theoretical models of planet formation. Scientists described PDS 70b as a "giant gas planet with a mass a few times that of Jupiter" that is "much hotter than any planet in our own solar system". The theory was that it was created by the interaction between the formation of a new planet and the disc itself.

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Astronomers known that planets form from solar clouds which stars leave behind when they come into a being, but until now, the details surrounding the phenomena have been mysterious. For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered a planet being formed and have shared the awe-inspiring image.

"The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc". The team's results will appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Researchers have always been on the hunt for a baby planet, and this is the first confirmed discovery of its kind. Without this mask, the faint light from the planet would be utterly overwhelmed by the intense brightness of PDS 70.

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The baby planet takes 120 Earth-years to orbit the star, at a distance of about 22 astronomical units. Now we can see the planet for the first time. One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and Earth, or almost 93 million miles.

The telescope's SPHERE instrument was able to observe the exoplanet at multiple wavelengths, revealing the young planet's atmosphere. Data compiled by SPHERE also allowed the researchers to deduce that the planet's atmosphere is cloudy.

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