News & Opinion | July 2, 2018 11:37 am

Astronomers Believe They Have First Image of Newborn Planet

The snapshot shows a bright blob traveling through the dust and gas surrounding a young star.

This image from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope is the first clear image of a planet caught in the act of formation. (ESO/A Müller et al)

Astronomers say they now have the first confirmed image of the formation of a planet, reports The Guardian. The image shows a bright blob, the nascent planet, moving through the dust and gas surrounding a young star that is known to scientists as PDS70. The planet is thought to be about 370 light years from Earth. The image was captured by the Sphere instrument of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. The planet is a gas giant with a mass greater than Jupiter and is about as far from its star as Uranus is from our sun. The Guardian reports that further analyses reveal that the planet seems to have a cloudy atmosphere and a surface temperature of 1,000 degrees Celsius.

“These discs around young stars are the birthplaces of planets, but so far only a handful of observations have detected hints of baby planets in them,” said Miriam Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, a lead author of the research published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, according to The Guardian.