Congrats, It’s A Planet! Incredible First Image Of Galaxy’s Newest Kid Rock
Now this isn’t something you see everyday.
It may appear as a small, bright blob, but this spectacular snapshot has been a long time coming.
Astronomers are confident they have now captured the first confirmed image of a newborn planet.
The above image shows the planet, known as PDS 70b, forming as it travels through dust and gas surrounding a young star, known as PDS 70.
With a mass a few times that of Jupiter, the nascent planet stands out as a bright mass to the right of a blackened spot, roughly three billion kilometres away from its central star -- or the same distance as Uranus is from our sun.
It was detected using the European Southern Observatory’s ‘Very Large Telescope’, a Sphere instrument which uses high-contrast images to measure the brightness of the planet and its atmospheric qualities.
Planets are most widely understood to be formed from the material left over from a star's formation -- a disc of gas and dust particles that orbits around the new star.
“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,” team leader, from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, Miriam Keppler said.
“The problem is that until now most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc.”
This time around, the new planet was detected using several different observing instruments and filters.
"The special thing about this new planet is that we can directly image it in its 'birthplace' which is the circumstellar disc,” Keppler told The Guardian.
The discovery lays ground for new insights into early planet evolution.
“We need to observe a planet in a young star’s disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation,” Andrew Muller, leader of a second team investigating the young planet, said.
Investigations will now focus on measuring how the nascent planet develops and tracing its orbit around the star.