First confirmed image of a newborn planet revealed

World's first images of a newborn planet reveal the birth of an alien world

World's first images of a newborn planet reveal the birth of an alien world

'We needed to observe a planet in a young star's disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation. But unlike Jupiter, whose temperature is a chilly minus-163 degrees Fahrenheit or so, this planet is far hotter than any planet in our solar system, Meyer said, with a temperature of around 1,340 to 2,420 degrees.

Until now, it had proven impossible to capture the birth of a planet as it is usually obscured by dust, but now they've finally managed to get shots of a planet breaking out of a "disc" from which it is formed.

Blinding starlight and incredible distances make it hard to learn about what's going on in planetary nurseries.

It shows a planet, dubbed PDS 70b, taking shape in the disc of gas and star dust surrounding the young dwarf star PDS 70. The results of the research will be shared in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics [PDF].

"These disks around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected hints of baby planets in them", lead researcher Miriam Keppler said in a statement released with the new image. The image, snapped at its Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, marks the first time a newborn planet has been seen as it forms.


SPHERE also allowed the scientists to study many of PDS 70b's properties by "measuring the brightness of planet at different wavelengths".

At just 5.4 million years old, the infant planet is very youthful compared to Earth, which is more than 4.5 billion years old.

Picking out the faint planet from the brilliant light of its host star was a challenge for the team.

Each journey around the dwarf star takes about 118 years. One astronomical unit is the distance between the sun and Earth, or almost 93 million miles. So if you dropped PDS 70b into our own solar system, the world would orbit somewhere between Uranus and Neptune. However, only now has the timing been flawless enough to capture this image of gas giant PDS 70b.

Data revealing the chemical makeup of the exoplanet's atmosphere will help scientists model the gas giant's formation and early evolution. Analysis of this spectrum indicated that its atmosphere is cloudy. "That is the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream".

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