Space Research

Astronomers capture birth of a young planet for the first time ever

For the first time ever, an international team of scientists has reportedly captured a spectacular shot of a newborn planet that’s still forming around its star in our galaxy.

The research team used the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert and its planet-hunting instrument, called SPHERE, to image the birth of the planet PDS 70b from the disk gas and dust surrounding dwarf star PDS 70. The star is estimated to be located about 370 light years from Earth and is 5.4 billion years old.

The newly discovered planet is around 1.9 billion kilometers from the central star, PDS 70, the distance between Uranus and the sun. PDS 70 b makes a full orbit once about every 120 Earth years.

Although the newly discovered planet is pretty young, it’s two to three times larger than Jupiter. Its surface temperature exceeds 1,000°C (1832°F) which is the highest temperature recorded on any planet in our solar system. It is expected that the new discovery will help scientists better understand how planets are formed in much more detail than ever before.

It has long been believed that planets form and grow in protoplanetary disks- collections of gas and dust surrounding a young star. This is the first time that planet formation process has been captured in pictures.
“Now we have proof that planetary objects [carve] a gap in the disk,” said André Muller, who worked at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. “This is a very lucky case.”

Muller added that it was a pretty long-lasting and careful process to characterize a young planet. The research team of about 120 scientists led by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy worked for at least a year on it on a daily basis.

The discovery is detailed in two papers published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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