Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

New baby planet image captured

Sandra Phillips | 03 July, 2018, 01:53

As shown in the photo above, the birth of the planet PDS 70b from the disk gas and dust surrounding dwarf star PDS 70 was captured by the ESO's Very Large Telescope. The planet stands clearly out, visible as a bright point to the right of the centre of the image, which is blacked out by the coronagraph mask used to block the blinding light of the central 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.

Known as PDS 70b, it appears to be several times the size of Jupiter and probably has a cloudy atmosphere.

Researchers were able to determine that it's a giant gas planet and has a blisteringly hot surface temperature of 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit.

"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", Miriam Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, who led one team, said in a statement.

The distance between the newly forming planet and its host star is about 3 billion km (somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.8 billion miles).

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The planet takes approximately 120 years to orbit its star, the researchers added in the research paper that detailed their findings.

Capturing a planet's birth is exceptionally hard because it's often too far away to see on a telescope.

SPHERE also allowed the scientists to study many of PDS 70b's properties by "measuring the brightness of planet at different wavelengths". The instrument was able to spot a large mass of material - referred to as an accretion disk - surrounding a nearby star.

Planets emerge in the swirling disks of dust and gas that race around stars for the first 10 million years of their lives. The results of the research will be shared in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics [PDF].

This discovery, scientists hope, will give us a brand new view on how planets are actually formed, and develop our understanding of the process.

The image is the first confirmed direct observation of such a young exoplanet, discovery team members said.

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