Images of Planet in Process of Forming Around Its Star

With the help Hawaii’s Keck Observatory astronomers could capture the first direct images of a planet in the process of forming around its star. The newly born object, which astronomers are calling LkCa 15 b, appears to be a hot “protoplanet” that is sucking up a surrounding swath of cooler dust and gas. The new images reveal that the alien planet sits in a wide gap between its host star and an outer disk of dust. According to Adam Kraus, of the University of Hawaii LkCa 15 b is the youngest planet ever found, about five times younger than the previous record holder. The newly forming planet is a relatively close neighbor to Earth, it’s located only about 450 light-years away in the constellation Taurus (the Bull). 

LkCa15 b looks like a whopper, perhaps harboring as much mass as six Jupiters. But since the planet is still forming, it could end up being considerably smaller.