Astronomers capture first-ever photos of a planet is born

This spectacular image of the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope is the first clear image of a planet caught in the act of the formation around the dwarf star PDS 70. The planet is clearly visible as a bright point on the right side of the middle of the image, which is a black-out by the coronagraph mask, which is used for blocking the blinding light from the central star.

(ESO/A. Müller et al)

It’s not often the news should be read while listening to “also sprach Zarathustra”, but if there was ever a case for, it can be today. For the first time ever, astronomers have discovered a planet, which is formed and have shared the awesome image.

The discovery of the planet formation, known as PDS 70b, was made possible thanks to the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and the planet-finding instrument, known as a BOL. Two sets of researchers, published in two different papers in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Monday, detailed how a planet is formed.

“These discs around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but until now only a handful of sightings have detected hints of baby planets in them,” Miriam Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, who led the team, said in a statement. “The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates can only be functions in the drive.”


BULB is generally considered to be one of the, if not the most powerful planet-finders available.

The research shows that PDS 70b is a giant, with a mass a few times that of Jupiter.” The surface temperature of about 1000°C, that of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) said in the statement “much hotter than any planet in our own solar system.” Data collected by the SPHERE, also the researchers were able to deduce that the atmosphere of the planet is going to be cloudy.

For comparison, NASA notes that the temperature of Jupiter’s center is approximately 24,000°C, “hotter than the surface of the Sun!”

PDS 70b is about 1.86 billion miles (3 billion kilometers, or the same distance from Uranus to the Sun, at a distance from the central star, a young dwarf star called PDS 70. The planet has about 120 years to orbit the star, added the researchers in the research paper that detailed their findings.

In the above image, the dark area in the middle is due to a coronograph, ESO said, a mask that blocks the blinding light of the central star and allows astronomers to detect are much weaker disk and the planetary companion.” Without the mask, the light from the planet would be overhwhelmed by PDS 70.

André Müller, who is also with the Max Planck Institute and led the second team, said that Keppler the results give us a new window on the complex and poorly understood early stages of the planetary evolution.”


“We were on a planet in a young star in the drive to really understand the processes behind the planet’s formation,” Müller added in the statement.

Thanks to the discovery, the researchers are now confident that they can test their theories about how planets are formed.

“After more than a decade a huge effort to build this high-tech machine, now BOL allows us to harvest with the discovery of baby planets!” Thomas Henning, director of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, said in the statement.

Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia

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