Scientists Capture Stunning Photo In Deep Space

Posted: Jul 4 2018, 8:56am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 5 2018, 5:52am CDT, in Latest Science News


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The image snapped by the ESO team shows the gas and dust surrounding the star.
The image snapped by the ESO team, via ESO.

Astronomers are reporting the first image of a baby planet being formed.

Astronomers have captured the first confirmed image of a planet forming from gas and dust, an exciting find that could help us learn more about how planets form in our universe. The image was captured by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, and it shows a planet forming near a young star called PDS 70 about 370 light years from Earth.

The planet was given the creative name of PDS 70B and it is quite large, about two or three times bigger than Jupiter in fact. It is an extremely hot planet, with temperatures on its surface soaring above 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, which is not uncommon for a new planet.

The research team was led by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany. They used the ESO's SPHERE instrument to snap the photo. The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is an extremely powerful tool that scientists use to search for planets outside of 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," said Miriam Keppler, who lead the team, in an ESO statement. "The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc."

"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution," added André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate the young planet. "We needed to observe a planet in a young star's disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation." By determining the planet's atmospheric and physical properties, the astronomers are able to test theoretical models of planet formation.

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