Scientists have captured the first-ever image of a planet being born using the planet-hunting telescope.

Astronomers led by a group at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany have captured a spectacular snapshot of planetary formation around the young dwarf star PDS 70. By using the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) - one of the most powerful planet-hunting instruments in existence—the international team has made the first robust detection of a young planet, named PDS 70b, leaving a path through the planet-forming material surrounding the young star. The SPHERE instrument also allowed the team to measure the brightness of the planet at different wavelengths, which allowed properties of its atmosphere to be concluded. The planet stands out crystal clearly in the latest observations, visible as a bright point to the right of the blackened center of the image. It is located roughly three billion kilometers from the central star, roughly equivalent to the distance between Uranus and the Sun. The analysis shows that PDS 70b is a giant gas planet with a mass a few times that of the planet Jupiter. The planet has a temperature of around 1000°C, making it much hotter than any planet in our own Solar System.


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