Birth Pangs
LkCa 15 b is a young planet, so young in fact it is still in the process of forming. Surrounded by a swath of cooler dust and gas which continues to add to it's mass, the hot protoplanet is an example of the youngest planet observed while it's forming. Astronomers from the W.M. Keck Observatory used the adaptive power of Keck's 10-meter telescopes and a technique called aperture mask interferometry to observe the young planet. The adaptive optics allow astronomers to use a deformable mirror to rapidly correct for atmospheric distortions of starlight while the interferometry involves placing a small mask with several apertures in the path of the collected light, which allows the astronomers to manipulate the light waves.

"It’s like we have an array of small mirrors,” said Kraus. “We can manipulate the light and cancel out distortions.” The technique allows the astronomers to cancel out the bright light of stars. They can then resolve disks of dust around stars and see gaps in the dusty layers where protoplanets may be hiding."
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