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This Is the First Ever Picture of a Newborn Planet

03 July 2018

Without this mask, the faint light from the planet would be utterly overwhelmed by the intense brightness of PDS 70.

Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy used a very large telescope in the Atacama Desert in Chile called the Very Large Telescope (honestly) provided by the European Southern Observatory - the European Space Agency's base in the Southern Hemisphere. The gas giant is around 3 billion kilometers from PDS 70 and is believed to be around 3 times the mass of Jupiter. The young planet is absolutely scorching, with a surface temperature topping 1,000 degrees Celsius. The new planet is the bright point to the right of the centre of the image. "The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disk". Data compiled by SPHERE also allowed the researchers to deduce that the planet's atmosphere is cloudy.

The new planet - named PDS 70b - is orbiting roughly three billion miles from the central star, around the same distance between Uranus and the sun. The object of their attention is a still-forming planet that orbits around PDS 70, a young dwarf star.

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The discovery of PDS 70b is a significant event for astronomers, and subsequent teams of researchers are already following up on the initial research.

In the images, the newborn planet rips through the material surrounding the star.

Because this is the first time we've seen this, it is even more important as it means that we can use PDS 70b as a yardstick against which to measure any further instances.

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Astronomers observing circumstellar disks shredded with gaps, rings and spirals have long thought planet formation could be behind these structures. Now, for the first time ever, astronomers have announced the witnessing of a planet in the midst of its own birth, and they've got a stunning image to back up the news. 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.

Despite the fact that it can take ages for a planet to fully form, actually capturing the process of planet formation has proven to be incredibly hard.

"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!"

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This Is the First Ever Picture of a Newborn Planet