WOW-POW = World Of Wonderful POWer: First Picture of likely planet around sun-like star

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Picture of likely planet around sun-like star

Astronomers have unveiled what is likely the first picture of a planet around a normal star similar to the Sun.
Three University of Toronto scientists used the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai‘i to take images of the young star 1RXS J160929.1-210524 (which lies about 500 light-years from Earth) and a candidate companion of that star. They also obtained spectra to confirm the nature of the companion, which has a mass about eight times that of Jupiter, and lies roughly 330 times the Earth-Sun distance away from its star. (For comparison, the most distant planet in our solar system, Neptune, orbits the Sun at only about 30 times the Earth-Sun distance.) The parent star is similar in mass to the Sun, but is much younger.