Now this is extraordinary. It's the sharpest picture ever made of a protoplanetary disc surrounding a young star. The image, which bears a striking resemblance to prior artistic impressions, is set to revolutionize our understanding of how planets form.
Astronomers have documented thousands of exoplanets to date, but they have yet to find one near the "frost line" — an important boundary in understanding how planets form. The discovery of Kepler-421b now changes that.
You’re looking at an artist’s conception of GJ 504b, the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star using direct imaging techniques. Located 57 light-years away, it’s about four times the mass of Jupiter. And it’s pink. Really, really pink.
What you're looking at could be a planet being born some 176 light-years away from Earth. It’s a small planet, only 6 to 28 times Earth’s mass. But that’s not even the best part. This alien world, if we can confirm it, shouldn’t be there according to conventional planet-forming theory.
For the first time in astronomical history, scientists have taken an actual snapshot of an exoplanet in the midst of formation. Located about 337 light-years from Earth, the protoplanet, which will eventually resemble something like Jupiter, is completely surrounded by a massive ring of gas and dust. The photo was…