Astronomers reveal image of baby planet being formed

Astronomers reveal image of baby planet being formed

Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany have caught a fabulous snapshot of planetary development around the youthful dwarf star PDS 70.

Astronomers have seen these discs of planet-forming materials surrounding young stars before, but the young planets have always just been a part of the disc.

Once they'd sifted out the starlight, scientists probed the mysterious baby planet.

Although the planet looks close to its star in the image, it's 1,864,113,576 miles away.

For video game fans, it sounds strikingly similar to what happens to the spheres of junk beamed into the sky in the Katamari series. That is necessary for observation, because stars shine shines so brightly that dimmer sources of light - such as starlight reflected from the surface of planets - can not otherwise be observed. These inner gaps have been known about for decades and it has been speculated that they were produced by disc-planet interaction. The stellar halo, meanwhile, appears immobile. As a effect, the planet appears to slowly rotate, changing its location on the image with respect to the stellar halo. This is the website of the European southern Observatory, and found a remarkable discovery. Further analysis shows that the new planet is a giant gas planet with a total mass several times that of Jupiter. That's about the distance between Uranus and our Sun. A second paper, which Keppler also co-authored, has followed-up on the initial observations with a few months of study.

The team also learned about the planet's properties by measuring its brightness at different wavelengths.

Mostly consisting of gas and dust, this orbits around the new star in a wide disk.

"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution", said astronomer André Müller of the MPIA. And the discovery could help us understand how planets are formed in much more detail than ever before.

(INTERNATIONAL) – There may be no end to the ongoing troubles and misery caused by humans that befall other humans on our blue planet, but far out there in the deep, silent void of space, nature ignores it all and just keeps doing its thing, which is creation.

The footage is important because, up until this point, scientists largely believed in a dominant theory for planet formation that they were unable to confirm.

Not bad for a bunch of photographs.

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