October 20, 2011
A University of Hawaii astronomer used the twin 10-metre Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea to capture the first direct image of a planet forming around a star.
The scientists used mirrors to ‘cancel out’ starlight. It’s usually impossible to capture such ‘births’ because the parent star’s light outshines them.
The planet – called LkCa 15 b, is hot ‘protoplanet’ surrounded by cooler dust and gas, which is falling into the still-forming planet. LkCa 15b will become a Jupiter-like gas giant.
The Institute for Astronomy says Adam Kraus used the telescopes on Mauna Kea – the world’s largest optical/infrared telescopes – to find the planet. He was working with Michael Ireland from Macquarie University and the Australian Astronomical Observatory.