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A Directly Imaged Multi-Planet System around a Sun-like Star

22 Jul 2020, 18:47 UTC
A Directly Imaged Multi-Planet System around a Sun-like Star
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At this point in the exoplanet hunt, actual images of our quarry are uncommon, but few more so than today’s image, made with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope. This is being billed as the first image ever taken of a young Sun-like star accompanied by multiple planets, in this case two gas giants. And I do mean young: At 17 million years old, this star has spawned planets recently enough that their hot glow makes the image possible.

Image: First ever image of a multi-planet system around a Sun-like star. The arrows point to the planets; the other bright objects are background stars. Credit: European Southern Observatory.
Designated TYC 8998-760-1, the host star is some 300 light years away in the southern constellation of Musca (The Fly), with a mass close to that of the Sun, described in the paper on this work as a solar analogue. The two gas giants orbit the star at 160 and 320 AU, and both are more massive than our Jupiter and Saturn, with the inner planet at 14 times Jupiter’s mass and the outer at six times Jupiter’s mass. The youth of the system suggests what our Solar System may ...

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