First confirmed photo of a planet being born


'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, ' explains Miriam Keppler, who led the team which discovered a still-forming planet around a dwarf star called PDS 70. Of course, the center isn't naturally this dark.

The worldwide team of researchers made the robust detection of the young planet, named PDS 70b, cleaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding a young star.

The observations revealed the presence of a newborn gas giant in PDS 70's surrounding protoplanetary disk.

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One of the newest landmarks in the observable universe has finally been captured, according to the European Southern Observatory.

The planet, dubbed PDS 70b, was detected by an worldwide team using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile and its planet-hunting instrument, called SPHERE. The SPHERE device - which stands for Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument - studies exoplanets and discs around nearby stars using a technique known as high-contrast imaging. 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.

The planet can be seen just right of center inside the disk (the very bright blur).

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"Keppler's results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution", André Müller, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, said in a news release.

This is incredibly challenging, because even though SPHERE used the coronagraph to block the star, it had to seek out the planet's signal in multiple ways. It has a surface temperature of around 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius) and takes 120 years to orbit its host star.

The planet is called PDS 70b and scientists have determined it is a gas giant with a mass several times that of Jupiter. The planet is also as hefty as a few Jupiters, which is on the upper range of planethood.

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The most widely accepted theory is that planets are created from the material left over when a star forms. That's the same distance as Uranus from our sun.