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Hubble Watches How A Giant Planet Grows

May 23, 2021

The Hubble Space Telescope studied an exoplanet that’s grown up to five times the mass of Jupiter over a period of about 5 million years. This illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from NASA illustration by Joseph Olmsted, Space Telescope Science Institute - April 20, 2021.)

Five million years might sound like a long time, but it’s a young age for a planet!

The Hubble Space Telescope studied an exoplanet that’s grown up to five times the mass of Jupiter over a period of about 5 million years.

The illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. By employing Hubble’s ultraviolet light (UV) sensitivity, researchers got a unique look at radiation from extremely hot gas falling onto the planet, allowing them to directly measure the planet’s mass growth rate for the first time.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. It was not the first space telescope, but it is one of the largest and most versatile, renowned both as a vital research tool and as a public relations boon for astronomy. The Hubble telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble and is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Image created by USA Patriotism! from NASA illustration by Joseph Olmsted, Space Telescope Science Institute - April 20, 2021.

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