Very Large Telescope Captures Baby Planet Birth Image For First Time

The planet known as PDS 70b was discovered by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile and its planet-finding instrument SPHERE

A newborn planet has been observed for the first time by astronomers.

European Space Agency's Very Large Telescope (VLT) placed at the Atacama Desert is meant for finding new planets in space and it has a SPHERE instrument said to be a powerful one supervised by astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany. The footage in itself is incredible.

The planet, named PDS 70 b, is estimated to be 5 or 6 million years old and far larger than Jupiter.

PDS 70b orbits at roughly 2 billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers) from its star, or the same distance as Uranus is from our sun.

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

'And while we look at tiny, pristine meteorites in the lab at the Museum, astronomers are examining much bigger things outside the lab: young stars and planets like the one in this photo.

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Other images have shown planetlike features in the disks around their host stars, but it was always hard to tell for sure that the features represented actual planets.

The planet is actually being born around a star which, as per the cosmological timescale, is young with 5.4 million years of age.

Because this planet is a gas giant just like Jupiter is, monitoring its growth could reveal more about how quickly Jupiter formed alongside Earth.

"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution", comments André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate the young planet.

Astronomers used a coronagraph to get the image, which blocked out the star's light, allowing experts to see the newly emerging light of the young planet.

He says, 'This discovery provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to test theoretical models of planet formation'. Even when blocking the light from a star with a coronagraph, SPHERE still has to use cleverly devised observing strategies and data processing techniques to filter out the signal of the faint planetary companions around bright young stars at multiple wavelengths and epochs. Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute and leader of the teams, summarised the scientific adventure: "After more than a decade of enormous efforts to build this hi-tech machine, now Sphere enables us to reap the harvest with the discovery of baby planets".

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