Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Astronomers Capture First Image of Newborn Planet

 A group of astronomers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany have captured the first ever photograph of a planet caught in the act of formation in its dusty disc surrounding a young star.
Using the SPHERE instrument on the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), the international group of researchers were able to detect the young planet, called PDS 70b, clearing a path through the dusty ring surrounding the young star. The instrument also allowed the scientists to garner data on the brightness of the planet, which revealed properties of its atmosphere.
 The planet stands out distinctly in this image, appearing as a bright dot to the right of the blackened centre of the image. In this image, the planet was found to be located roughly three billion kilometres from its star, roughly the same distance between Uranus and the Sun.
 The dark region located at the centre of the image is the product of a coronagraph. This mask blocks the blinding light of the star, allowing astronomers to detect its much fainter disc and planetary companion. Without this mask, the faint light of the planet would have been completely overpowered by its parent star.
Read more about this fascinating story at: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1821/

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