Scientists snap pic of still forming young planet only 5-6 million years old

The photo you see here is significant. Scientists say that this is the very first direct image of the birth of a planet that is still forming around a star. The planet is said to be very young at only 5-6 million years old. That might sound ancient to we puny humans, but the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

Despite its young age, the planet is massive said to be many times the size of Jupiter. That size is hard to fathom but consider that Jupiter could hold 1,300 Earths and you begin to see just how massive the new planet is. This planet is dubbed PDS 70 b and that rather boring name is derived from the name of the star it orbits, which is PDS 70.

The images of the planet were released this week and were taken using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. This telescope has the capability to combine images from the four most advanced telescopes on the planet. Scientists have theorized that planets form by orbiting young stars and gathering materials in the gas and dust clouds around the star.

The orbit of PDS 70 b is a very slow one taking 120 Earth years per full orbit. This is the first time a photo of the process of a planet developing has been taken. Scientists were particularly shocked at how clear the photo is.

The scientists on the project say that it is important to understand how planets formed in our own solar system. Studying how planets form in other solar systems is the best way to understand the process.

SOURCE: MPIA