World's first images of a newborn planet reveal birth of alien world

The ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile captured the first confirmed image of a newborn planet around the star PDS 70.

The startling snapshot shows a bright blob - the nascent planet - travelling through the dust and gas surrounding a young star, known as PDS70, thought to be about 370 light years from Earth.

The planet, dubbed PDS 70b, was detected by an global team using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile and its planet-hunting instrument, called SPHERE.

According to the researchers' analysis, the planet is a gas giant which is even more massive than Jupiter, and has a surface temperature of around 1000C.

"PDS 70b, which is found in the large gap of its parental disk, now finally confirms that planets do play an important role in the formation of these gaps", said Keppler, who works at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.

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In the above image, the dark area at the center is due to a coronograph, ESO said, a mask that "blocks the blinding light of the central star and allows astronomers to detect its much fainter disc and planetary companion". Two sets of researchers, published in two different papers in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Monday, detailed how a planet is formed.

"This discovery provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to test theoretical models of planet formation", said André Müller, a member of the research team. Now, scientists can see it happening for themselves, thanks to the discovery of this planet and this photograph. Eventually, that "dust bunny" attracts more space materials until it grows bigger and bigger and forms a planet.

It's about as far away from its sun as Uranus is from ours.

'The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc'. This is the first time they've actually been able to detect a separate baby planet.

Researchers only have our own Solar System on which to build this theory, so being able to visualise planets like PDS 70b in the early stages will help astronomers to understand more about this process. Thomas Henning, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and leader of the teams, said in a statement.

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