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ESO/Boccaletti et al: Glimpses of a baby planet being formed

Images from the ESO’s Very Large Telescope reveals signs of planet formation around a star.


ESO/Boccaletti et al.

The twist at the centre of the disc could be the location of a new planet one day.
ESO/Boccaletti et al.

Scientists confirm a rare sight of a planet being ‘born’ about 520 light-years away from Earth.

The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO VLT) recorded a “dense disc of dust and gas” near a young star AB Aurigae.

The disk which clearly displays a spiral structure with a twist that scientists say indicates the beginnings of a new planet. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form,” said Anthony Boccaletti who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris, PSL University, France in a statement. Scientists haven’t been able to get photos “sharp and deep” enough until now, though.

Anne Dutrey, a co-author of the paper elaborates on the formation of the twist “[The twist] corresponds to the connection of two spirals — one winding inwards of the planet’s orbit, the other expanding outwards — which join at the planet location. They allow gas and dust from the disc to accrete onto the forming planet and make it grow.”

ESO is currently in the process of building Extremely Large Telescope, a successor to the VLT, which they hope would give more in-depth insights on the planet formation.

According to scientists the process of planet formation takes a few million years easily.

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