Planet birth imaged for first time

Scientists have captured an image of a planet being born for the first time ever.
By Joseph Scalise | Nov 12, 2018
For the first time in history, astronomers have imaged a planet being born.

This new picture -- which comes from scientists at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope -- reveals a planet known as PDS 70b as it first comes into existence.

Such an image has never been captured before, which means this finding could offer brand new insights into how the universe, galaxy, and solar system came to be.

"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 lead author Miriam Keppler, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, in a statement. "The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc."

The team used a planet-finding system known as SPHERE to make the discovery, which reveals that PDS 70b is a giant world with a mass a few times greater than Jupiter. It has a surface temperature of roughly 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it incredibly hot, and it is cloudy.

In addition, the world sits about 1.86 billion miles from its host star, a dwarf named PDS 70, and it takes 120 years to make one full orbit.

While all of that is fascinating, what truly makes the discovery special is the fact that it provides researchers with a brand new look into the early stages of planetary evolution. A lot is known about the universe, but that is something that has eluded astronomers for years.

The recent image will give new insight into the process and enable teams to test theories on how planets are formed.

"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 study co-author Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, according toFox News.

The new findings aredetailedin the journalAstronomy & Astrophysics.

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