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First confirmed image of newborn planet caught with ESO’s VLT

05 July 2018

With help from one of Earth's most powerful telescopes, an worldwide team of astronomers has snapped a spectacular snapshot of a newborn planet emerging from the disk of gas and debris surrounding its host star. The planet was detected in the gap of this disk. Although the concept of gas hole planets forming out of discs and subsequently getting a planetary shape are known earlier to the astronomers theoretically, they have not had seen the planet formation so far and the snapshot has been captured recently and it supports the existing theory of astronomers. "After more than a decade of enormous efforts to build this high-tech machine, now SPHERE enables us to reap the harvest with the discovery of baby planets!" said Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and leader of the teams. According to Scientists, PDS 70b is bigger than Jupiter and now has a surface temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius. A second team, involving numerous same astronomers as the discovery team, including Keppler, has in the past months followed up the initial observations to investigate PDS 70's fledgling planetary companion in more detail.

A second team was put together to further investigate the baby planet. But for now, we will have to live with the lovely baby picture we see above.

Although the planet looks close to its star in the image, it's 1,864,113,576 miles away. The star around which this new planet is incepting is called as PDS 70 and so, the planet is christened as PDS 70 b.

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"The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc", she said. Analysis of this spectrum indicated that its atmosphere is cloudy.

The planet is seen as the glowing spot to the right of the black circle, which was caused by scientists using a coronagraph to blot out the light from the star at the center of the frame - without the coronagraph, the star's blinding light would have prevented scientists from imaging the fainter disc and baby planet surrounding it. "This is especially important because people have been wondering [for a long time], how these planets actually form and how the dust and the material in this disc forms [into] a planet, and now we can directly observe this".

"The theoretical provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to test theoretical models of planet formation", said Andre Muller, a member of the research team.

First confirmed image of newborn planet caught with ESO’s VLT