Act of formation of a planet has been hidden under a veil of dust until now. Earlier, scientists used to indirectly identify planet embryos by observing the paths that these planet followed through the dusty disks around their parent stars. But recently, astronomers at Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have finally been able to capture a clear images of a planet named PD S70b, breaking through the ‘disc’ from which it is formed. The images were taken using the European Southern Observatory‘s Very Large Telescope.
The picture shows a bright blob which is the newborn planet PD S70b, travelling through the dust and gas surrounding its parent star, PDS70. The star is about 370 light years away from Earth. In case you are wondering what is that black circular object at the centre, well it’s a black hole. Just kidding! It is a just a filter to block the light from the parent star so that other things can seen easily.
How planets are formed?
Now since we are talking about formation of planet let me give you a brief detail on how planets are formed. The planets are formed from the leftovers of same spinning disc of dust that forms it’s parent star. This disc is called the solar nebula which is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. Particles in the spinning disc start to clump together due to gravity and in a span of millions of years these particles clump together to form planetesimals then protoplanets and then finally a planet.
Now coming back to the topic, PD S70b is a gaseous planet, expected to have a mass greater than Jupiter and is about as far from its star as Uranus is from our Sun. “The results give us a new window onto the complex and poorly-understood early stages of planetary evolution,” said André Müller, leader of the second team to investigate this young exoplanet. “We needed to observe a exoplanet in a young star’s disc to really understand the processes behind planet formation” she added.
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