Astronomers capture first-ever image of planet birth

Researchers captured the first image of a newborn plant in formation.
By Tyler MacDonald | Jul 03, 2018
For the first time ever, scientists have captured the act of planet formationusing the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile and its planet-hunting instrument SPHERE.

The team created an image of the planet PDS 70b, which is located within the disk of dust and gas surrounding PDS 70, a young dwarf star.

"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 Miriam Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, who led one of the research teams. "The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc."

"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution," saidAndr Mller, who led the other research team. "We needed to observe a planet in a young star's disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation."

In the future, scientists will be able to use the same direct imaging technique to test models of planetary formation.

"After more than a decade of enormous efforts to build this high-tech machine, now SPHERE enables us to reap the harvest with the discovery of baby planets!" said Thomas Henning, leader of both teams.

The findings were published across two papers in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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