First confirmed image of a newborn planet revealed

First confirmed image of a newborn planet revealed

The image, captured with advanced, surface-based telescopes, shows the new planet developing around the dwarf star PDS 70, which is located around 370 light-years from Earth. 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. These data were gathered by two instruments on the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, and one instrument at Hawaii's Gemini Observatory.

The distant world has been called PDS 70b and is believed to be a giant gas planet with a mass a few times heavier than Jupiter's. The Guardian reports that further analyses reveal that the planet seems to have a cloudy atmosphere and a surface temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

"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 research leader Miriam Keppler.

The new planet is named PDS 70b because it was caught forming a dusty disc around a star called PDS 70.

The planet takes approximately 120 years to orbit its star, the researchers added in the research paper that detailed their findings.


The new image suggests the newborn planet has created sizable gaps in the 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.

"The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc". Using a powerful planet-hunting instrument on the telescope called SPHERE, an worldwide team of scientists was able to study the newborn planet at a crucial point in its development. SPHERE also recorded the planet's brightness at different wavelengths.

Researchers only have our own Solar System on which to build this theory, so being able to visualise planets like PDS 70b in the early stages will help astronomers to understand more about this process. That's the same distance as Uranus from our sun.

The image is the first confirmed direct observation of such a young exoplanet, discovery team members said.

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