A group of astronomers has announced their discovery of a planetary system 370-light years away containing two baby planets. As the planets in the system are still pretty young, researchers expect that their latest discovery will help to understand how planets are formed going forward.
In the study, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group revealed that the distant young star, PDS 70, is just 5.4 million years old. The group was initially trying to see one planet called PDS 70b, a planet which is about 21 AU away from the parent star (1AU is the distance between the Earth and the Sun). However, they discovered a second developing planet named PDS 70c which is further away from its star and much small compared to the previously discovered planet.
Talking about their discovery, Sebastiaan Haffert, lead author of the study said, “Direct imaging of exoplanets is a challenging task. The planets are separated by a millionth of a degree in the sky and are usually 100,000 to a million times fainter than the star. To image a planet we need advanced instruments that can provide the resolution and capabilities to block the glare of the star.”
This latest discovery is just the second time since we have been able to directly image a multi-planet system. given the age of the star system, it might help astronomers to understand the formation of planetary system going forward. More interestingly, from the images the scientists were able to capture, the system is pretty similar to our solar system which might give us answer to questions related to formation of our own solar system.
At the moment, the group is monitoring the star system to understand the chemical signatures along with growth rate of the planets.