Astronomers have succeeded in taking the first-ever photo of a newborn planet
The birth of a new world has been observed with the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT), whichóry is the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory. This was done by astronomers from a research group led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg.
This is the first confirmed image of a recently born exoplanet. It shows a bright spot – a nascent planet, to the right of the obscured center of the photo – subrófeeding through the disk of dust and gas surrounding the young PDS star 70.
– Such disks wokół young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected traces of infant planets in similar disks, said Miriam Keppler of MPIA, whoóra led the team behind the discovery of PDS 70. – The problem is that so far most of these planet candidates have only been structures spotted in the disk – she added.
PDS 70 is an orange dwarf located at a distance of 370 light years from Earth. It has a mass slightly smaller than our sun. Astronomers have long suspected the existence of a planet in its orbit. In 2012, a significant gap was discovered in the gas disk surrounding PDS 70ów and dustóin, which zwróhas drawn the attention of scientistsów. Such gaps in protoplanetary disks have been known for decades, and it has already been suggested that they are formed by a forming planet. But now we have managed to see this planet. It was named PDS 70b.
Taking a picture of a nascent planet is not so easy. This is because usually exoplanets are too far away to be detected by our optical telescopes, especially when any light, które can reflect, is obscured by the brightness of its star.
That’s why the researchers had to resort to a coronagraph, an astronomical instrument equipped with an aperture that cuts off the light of the central star. The dark center of the photo is nothing more than the effect of the coronagraph, so that a much fainter visible disk and forming planet could be detected. Without an aperture, the faint light from the planet would be lost in the intense glare from PDS 70. But even blocking the light from the star with a coronagraph, the scientists had to cleverly plan observational strategies and data processing techniques to filter the signal from the planet.
Thanks to the SPHERE (Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch instrument) on the VLT, researchers were able to determine the brightness of a planet at róThe first images of a newborn planet were taken at different wavelengths, which made it possible to deduce the properties of its atmosphere.
Newborn planet orbits wokół of its star at a distance of about three billionów kilometerów. That’s slightly more than the distance of Uranus’ orbit from the Sun in our solar system. It takes a young planet 120 Earth years to circle its star. PDS 70b is a gas giant. Its mass exceeds that of Jupiter by several times. The researchers also found that its surface has a temperature of about 1,000 st. Celsius.
Planetary evolution is not entirely clear, and this discovery will allow researchers to better understand it. Observations of a fledgling planet in a young protoplanetary disk will help determine its properties, which in turn will help test theoretical models.
– After more than a decade of great effortsów associated with building a state-of-the-art instrument, now SPHERE allows us to reap the harvest of discovering baby planets – MPIA director Thomas Henning said.