Astronomers Capture the First Image of a Planet Being Born

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 image was captured by the Sphere instrument of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope.

Keppler and her colleagues analyzed new and archival observations of a young dwarf star called PDS 70, which is about 5.4 million years old and lies 370 light-years from Earth.

Miriam Kessler, who headed up the group that found this fantastic event, told the Independent: "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". 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.

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

While a newborn planet might sound like an interesting place to visit, you most certainly wouldn't want to set foot on PDS 70b any time soon.

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Eventually, that "dust bunny" attracts more space materials until it grows bigger and bigger and forms a planet. The image is the first confirmed direct observation of such a young exoplanet , discovery team members said.

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"After this exciting discovery, I hope many more detections of [this] kind of planets will come in the future, enabling us to get a statistical view on the properties of young, forming planets", Keppler added.

The new image suggests the newborn planet has created sizable gaps in the protoplanetary disk. The team's results will appear in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Without the mask, the light from planet would be overhwhelmed by PDS 70.

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

It's about as far away from its sun as Uranus is from ours. The instrument was able to spot a large mass of material - referred to as an accretion disk - surrounding a nearby star.

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. Astronomers who've studied the data believe the world is a gas giant whose atmosphere is about 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead. SPHERE also recorded the planet's brightness at different wavelengths.

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