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Astronomers say they now have the first confirmed image of the formation of a planet, reports The Guardian.
The planet, now known as PDS 70b, is shown orbiting within a huge spinning "protoplanetary disc" of gas and dust, which proves it is continuing to accumulate matter, and so is not yet fully formed.
The discovery was made using the powerful planet-hunting tool called SPHERE, which is part of the European Southern Observatory'sVery Large Telescope. The planet is a gas giant with a mass greater than Jupiter and is about as far from its star as Uranus is from our sun. With a temperature of 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit, PDS 70b is much hotter than any planet in our Solar System.
"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 new planet is named PDS 70b because it was caught forming a dusty disc around a star called PDS 70. That's because in order to understand how planets form, astronomers needed to capture this one crucial, sensitive, rare moment in time: the actual birth of a planet.
The telescope's SPHERE instrument was able to observe the exoplanet at multiple wavelengths, revealing the young planet's atmosphere.
The planet can be seen just right of center inside the disk (the very bright blur). Without the mask, the light from planet would be overhwhelmed by PDS 70.
Astronomers have a long history of data and images about stars, galaxies, and dust clouds.
André Müller, leader of the second team to examine the young planet, said: "Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution". Using a powerful planet-hunting instrument on the telescope called SPHERE, an global team of scientists was able to study the newborn planet at a crucial point in its development. Now, scientists can see it happening for themselves, thanks to the discovery of this planet and this photograph. Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy said in the statement.
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