NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope provides astronomers with a rare look at a Jupiter-sized, still-forming planet that feeds off material surrounding a young star. Named PDS 70b, this giant exoplanet orbits the orange dwarf star PDS 70, which already has two actively forming planets inside a huge disk of dust and gas encircling the star. This system is located 370 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus. Read more for a video and additional information.
The relatively young PDS 70 system is filled with a primordial gas-and-dust disk that offers fuel to feed the growth of planets throughout the entire system, while the exoplanet itself is encircled by its own gas-and-dust disk that siphons material from the far larger circumstellar disk. Hubble’s observations provide insights into how gas giant planets formed around our Sun approximately 4.6 billion years ago.
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We just don’t know very much about how giant planets grow. This planetary system gives us the first opportunity to witness material falling onto a planet. Our results open up a new area for this research. This system is so exciting because we can witness the formation of a planet. This is the youngest bona fide planet Hubble has ever directly imaged.” At a youthful five million years, the planet is still gathering material and building up mass,” said Yifan Zhou and Brendan Bowler of the University of Texas at Austin.