Saturday, 21 July, 2018

Astronomers reveal first image showing birth of baby planet

Doris Mccormick | 03 July, 2018, 01:58

This latest cornograph (an image that blocks the light of a star to make its surroundings visible) depicts the new planet clearly as a bright blob beside the black star. But in a recent feat, scientists used an instrument called Sphere to capture it at last - a great win after they had started looking for a possible baby planet in 2012.

Named PDS 70b, the planet is orbiting the central star at a distance of around three billion kilometres - similar to where Uranus is in our galaxy. Its' surface temperature is approximately 1000°C, which the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said in the statement was "much hotter than any planet in our own Solar System".

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany snapped the spectacular picture of a planet forming around the star PDS 70 from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile.

Planet formation had previously been hidden from the human eye by dust, but a team at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy grabbed a clear image of the planet breaking through the disc from which it forms.

Planets emerge in the swirling disks of dust and gas that race around stars for the first 10 million years of their lives.

The discovery by two teams of researchers is detailed in two papers published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Monday.

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Astronomers observing circumstellar disks shredded with gaps, rings and spirals have long thought planet formation could be behind these structures. "The problem is that, until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disk".

The observations revealed the presence of a newborn gas giant in PDS 70's surrounding protoplanetary disk.

Although the planet looks close to its star in the image, it's 1,864,113,576 miles away.

"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly understood early stages of planetary evolution", André Müller, who led a second team studying the new planet, said in a statement.

"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.

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