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PicSat: Eye on Beta Pictoris

11 Jan 2018, 15:33 UTC
PicSat: Eye on Beta Pictoris
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To understand why Beta Pictoris is receiving so much attention among astronomers, particularly those specializing in exoplanets, you have only to consider a few parameters. This is a young star, perhaps 25 million years old, one with a well observed circumstellar disk, the first actually imaged around another star. We not only have a large gas giant in orbit here, but also evidence of cometary activity as seen in spectral data. β Pic is also relatively nearby at 64 light years.

Image: This composite image represents the close environment of Beta Pictoris as seen in near infrared light. This very faint environment is revealed after a careful subtraction of the much brighter stellar halo. The outer part of the image shows the reflected light on the dust disc, as observed in 1996 with the ADONIS instrument on ESO’s 3.6 m telescope; the inner part is the innermost part of the system, as seen at 3.6 microns with NACO on the Very Large Telescope. The newly detected source is more than 1000 times fainter than Beta Pictoris and aligned with the disc. Both parts of the image were obtained on ESO telescopes equipped with adaptive optics. Credit: ESO/A.-M. Lagrange et al. ...

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