First Confirmed Picture Of The Newly Born Planet

HL Tau protoplanetary disk as seen by ALMA

By using the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) - one of the most powerful planet-hunting instruments in existence - the global team has made the first robust detection of a young planet, named PDS 70b, cleaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding the young star.

A team led by astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, used the VLT's Planet-spotting sphere instrument to locate and snap a portrait of the cosmic baby.

Behold: this is the first confirmed image of a planet being born.

Dr. Zoe Leinhardt, a specialist in planetary formation and university computational astrophysicist in Bristol, told the Guardian: "For astronomers, most of the time, it is very rare that we are really able to show a picture". This means that the atmosphere around it is cloudy and the surface temperature can reach 1,000 degrees Celsius (which means 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit). Specifically, the researchers saw the disk of gas and dust, which consists of leftovers from when the parent star of PDS 70b was forming.

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The SPHERE instrument also enabled the team to measure the brightness of the planet at different wavelengths, which allowed properties of its atmosphere to be deduced.

The planet PDS 70b sits about 1.86 billion miles away from its host star, roughly as far as Uranus is from our sun. More interesting would be to encounter how planets develop from scrap and that's what scientists from Chile have got for us now. "While discovering how planet formation takes place around other stars, we learn as well about the history of our own solar system".

An expert involved in the study stated that this seems to be the most accurate report as compared to the earlier ones when the captured images didn't clearly convey of them being planets. However, despite years of searching, astronomers have so-far failed to directly image a planet forming within one of these hot and chaotic disks.

A newly born planet, which was being formed in our Milky Way, was captured using a planet hunting instrument. This makes the newfound planet a slow orbiter, taking about 120 Earth years to make a single lap around its star. "Gas giant planets like this one form on a timescale of several million years, but they are hidden from view during most of this period due to the presence of the gas disk".

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