Planet formation

First Baby Photos of an Infant Planet

Apr 18, 2016
For the first time we've managed to take a baby picture of a planet still in the process of growing.  Our team was able to image this so-called “proto"-planet with the Magellan telescope in Chile, taking advantage of the high-speed adaptive optics of the telescope to correct for blurring by the Earth's atmosphere.  This allowed us to take a super high-resolution image of the system and, after subtracting the light from the central star, isolate light coming directly from the protoplanet. More specifically, we isolated light emitted by ultra-hot hydrogen gas falling onto the protoplanet, which is named (systematically, if not super-creatively) LkCa 15 b after its star, LkCa 15 A.