So why is this planet considered just a baby?
Astronomers will now be charged with monitoring the formation of the planet and its orbit around the star which, some scientists say, could take about 120 more years for a full revolution. In comparison to 4.5-billion-year-old Earth, it's definitely a young one. As such, this infant has yet to reach its mature size. The image was captured by SPHERE, a planet-hunting instrument on the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope. It is a temporary structure composed of gas and dust from which the planets are formed.
Finally, seeing a planet as it is forming is important in understanding the entirety of a planet's life. This likely happens due to a couple of reasons.
It's not every day you see a newborn planet being formed out of the ether of gas and debris. Also, a constant stream of particles emanating from the star (known as the solar wind) likely blows some of the material away.
"This is the first time we've been able to see a planet embedded in a gas disk around a young star", Heather Knutson, a professor of planetary science at Caltech in Pasadena, California, told MACH in an email.
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"So far, several thousands of planets around other stars have been discovered, but astronomers still know very little about how they actually form, since most of the observed planets are orbiting around mature - or old - stars", wrote study participants Miriam Keppler and Andre Müller, who are both with the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Germany, in an email to Live Science.
The discovery by two teams of researchers is detailed in two papers published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics on Monday. However, astronomers were not sure if they spotted a new planet or some characters moving around in the dust.
The instrument SPHERE can measure the intensity of brightness at various wavelengths of the planet, which helped the scientists to decide properties of surrounding atmosphere. This is at least a few times the mass of Jupiter, the largest gas giant in our solar system, and well above the highest temperature recorded on any planet in our solar system. "This makes our discovery so exciting", the astronomers added. The surface of the planet has a temperature of about 1000 ° C and the study of its spectrum reveals the presence of a turbid atmosphere encircling it. Surprisingly, the team also suggests the baby planet itself is surrounded by its own disk of material (called a circumplanetary disk), though this is much more hard to verify.
Zooming toward the orange dwarf star PDS 70.
PDS 70b orbits at roughly 2 billion miles (3.2 billion kilometers) from its star, or the same distance as Uranus is from our sun. Planet baby is most likely still in the process of accumulation.