Image from the SPHERE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope shows the first clear image of a planet caught in the very act of formation around the dwarf star PDS 70. Image: ESO/A. Müller et al.

For the first time, scientists have caught sight of a ring of dust and debris around a planet as it forms. The new results were published this week in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, and they shed light on the process of planetary formation.

Why it matters: The disk surrounding the planet — named PDS 70 b — is viewed as a sign that moons could form around it, which is estimated to be about 4–17 times more massive than Jupiter.

  • The planet is orbiting a star 370 light-years from Earth.
  • “We think the large moons of Jupiter and other gas giants were born in such a disc, so our work helps to explain how planets in our solar system formed,” one of the researchers behind the new study, Valentin Christiaens, said in a statement.

What they did: The scientists used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to stare at the planet and spot the disc surrounding it.

  • PDS 70 b was discovered in 2018 by the same telescope, and its star — called PDS 70 — is thought to be about 6 million years old, making it much younger than our sun.
  • The star’s age indicates that it’s still in the relatively early stages of development, as the large disk of ice, gas and dust surrounding it coalesces into planets.

The backdrop: Another planet — named PDS 70 c — was also spotted orbiting the star recently.

  • According to a separate study published in the journal Nature Astronomy this week, both PDS 70 b and PDS 70 c are carving gapsfor themselves in the circumstellar disk around the star as they consume up material, growing in orbit.

What’s next: By studying this solar system so far from our own, scientists will be able to piece together more about how planets, moons and stars form.

Go deeper

Louisville officer: "Breonna Taylor would be alive" if we had served no-knock warrant

Breonna Taylor memorial in Louisville. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly, the Louisville officer who led the botched police raid that caused the death of Breonna Taylor, said the No. 1 thing he wishes he had done differently is either served a "no-knock" warrant or given five to 10 seconds before entering the apartment: "Breonna Taylor would be alive, 100 percent."

Driving the news: Mattingly, who spoke to ABC News and Louisville's Courier Journal for his public interview, was shot in the leg in the initial moments of the March 13 raid. Mattingly did not face any charges after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he and another officer were "justified" in returning fire to protect themselves against Taylor's boyfriend.

U.S. vs. Google — the siege begins

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Justice Department fired the starter pistol on what's likely to be a years-long legal siege of Big Tech by the U.S. government when it filed a major antitrust suit Tuesday against Google.

The big picture: Once a generation, it seems, federal regulators decide to take on a dominant tech company. Two decades ago, Microsoft was the target; two decades before that, IBM.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If the impasse between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House on a new stimulus deal is supposed to be a crisis, you wouldn't know it from the stock market, where prices continue to rise.

  • That's been in no small part because U.S. economic data has held up remarkably well in recent months thanks to the $2 trillion CARES Act and Americans' unusual ability to save during the crisis.