This photo of the SPHERE instrument at the European Southern Observatory's very large telescope is the first clear picture of a planet captured in the formation around the dwarf star PDS 70. The planet is clearly visible as a bright point to right of the center, which is darkened by coronagraph mask used to block the star's dazzling light.
Credit: A. Müller et al ./ESO
A stunning, first-of-the-scenes image shows a large, newly established foreign world that takes shape on the counter of gas and dust surrounding a young star.
The image is the first confirmed direct observation of such a young exoplanet, discovered team members. 1
Keppler and her colleagues analyzed new and archive observations of a young dwarf star called PDS 70, which is approximately 5.4 million years old and is 370 light years from the earth. These data were collected by two instruments on the very large telescope (VLT) in Chile and an instrument at the Hawaii Gemini Observatory.
The observations revealed the presence of a newborn gas giant in the PDS 70's surrounding protoplanetary disc. And the team was able to photograph the foreigner, known as PDS 70b, using one of the two VLT instruments, called SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric Exoplanet Research High-Contrast).
SPHERE has a coronary block that blocks the star's dazzling light, which makes it possible to solve dunky planets. The Gemini instrument, the almost infrared coronographic image, also has one.)
The researchers' analysis indicates that the PDS 70b is two to three times larger than Jupiter and is approximately 1.9 billion miles from its star – if so far as Uranus is from the sun.
The PDS 70b is much warmer than any planet in our solar system, and records a sizzling 1800 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius), the researchers determined. This elevated temperature may seem odd given the planet's significant distance from its star, but it is in line with other newborn gas giants, said study members. (Extremely young planets maintain a lot of heat left from the formation.)
The researchers report the discovery of PDS 70b and its measured and derived characteristics in a couple of new studies, both published online today (July 2) in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. (You can read them here and here.) (The research groups are not identical to both studies, but there are significant overlaps. For example, Keppler is the lead author of discovery paper and other authors for the follow-up study.)
"Keppler's results give us a new windows on the complex and poorly understood early stages of planetary development, "said André Müller, principal author of the second study, in the same statement.
"We needed to observe a planet on a young star's disc to truly understand the processes behind planet formation," added Müller, who is also based on the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.