Astronomers from the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany recently captured a series of noteworthy images utilising the Very Large Telescope (yes, real name) at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile to witness and photograph the birth of a planet.
The birthing process, which is still ongoing, is for an exoplanet designated PDS 70 b. The astronomers, Miriam Keppler and André Müller, were able to capture several images of the planet thanks to its position to a nearby star (PDS 70).
Such a feat has not been possible as the stars orbiting a planet being born have always made the conditions too bright to capture a clear image.
This hurdle was tackled thanks to a specialised coronagraph that was capable of blocking out the excess light radiated by PDS 70.
The planet is estimated at 5.4 million years old, equivalent to a human newborn as far as the cosmic measurements go.
Other notable numbers on PDS 70 b are that it is 22 times further away from its nearest star than Earth is from the Sun, as well as being several times larger and heavier than Jupiter.
Added to this is a surface temperature of roughly 1 000 degrees celsius, which makes it hotter than any planet in our solar system, as well as being an anomaly considering how far away it is from its nearest star.
Along with being science’s best look yet at a planet being born, what also makes this discovery particularly significant is the fact that it confirms a long-held theory that planets are formed from a disk-like shape that pulls in material to grow larger.
Watch ESO explain the recent achievement in the video below.