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Making a “Mega-Telescope” for Exoplanets

17 Feb 2020, 23:22 UTC
Making a “Mega-Telescope” for Exoplanets ESO/N. Bartmann/spaceengine.org

TRAPPIST-1 might be the best known system with multiple planets, but HR 8799 has quite a few cool things going for it, too. It’s one of the first systems discovered with direct imaging (actually taking pictures of the planets themselves), and since then people have been observing its four planets moving around in their orbits. The kinds of planets we see around HR 8799 are also very different than those around TRAPPIST-1. The transit method, used to discover the 7 terrestrial TRAPPIST-1 planets, is better suited to find planets very close to their host stars. Direct imaging, on the other hand, is best for the biggest, furthest out planets – young super-Jupiters and brown dwarfs, orbiting 10s to 100s of AU from their stars.

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