For the first time in history, the scientists caught on camera a baby planet, a planet being born, apparently a Super-Jupiter, around a dwarf star located at about 370 light-years away from Earth. The dwarf star that hosts this baby planet is dubbed PDS 70, and astronomers have long considered that a planet is orbiting it.
As far as scientists know, when a planet is forming, a disc of rocks, dust, and gas orbits the core of what will become a planet, known as planetary accretion. The planetary accretion disk is thought to form when the before-mentioned particles start colliding with each other and develop stronger gravitational forces that draw the matter from the orbit, ultimately, shaping up the planet as we know it.
To date, the scientists made several observations of the protoplanetary discs which are the disks of matter that are surrounding the star and where the planets form. But, this time was the first time when the astronomers caught on camera a planet being born.
The PDS 70b baby planet is a Super-Jupiter
In 2012, the researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and the European Southern Observatory detected a “hole” within the PDS 70 dwarf star’s protoplanetary disc.
“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. The problem is that until now, most of these planet candidates could just have been features in the disc,” explained Miriam Keppler, an astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy.
Using special filters to block specific wavelengths and employing the SPHERE planet hunter from the VLT, the scientists depicted a massive object in that “hole” within the protoplanetary disc.
The baby planet, even though it’s still a planet being born, is already several times bigger than Jupiter, which makes it be a so-called Super-Jupiter exoplanet. Also, the astronomers discovered that this planet, a much warmer object than anything within our solar system, orbits around its host star a little farther than Uranus in our solar system. They also found that it would take around 120 Earth-years for this baby planet to orbit the PDS 70 dwarf star once.