Sunday, October 5, 2008
Possible First Picture of an Extrasolar Planet!
Because the young planet is orbiting so far away, it's presence is a challenge to planetary formation theories. This may indicate that there may be more than one means of planetary formation, and that, thus, there will be an even greater variety of solar systems than first thought (which may also mean a greater variety of worlds for life to evolve on).
Next on the agenda is to see if the possible planet is actually gravitationally tied to the star. This will take two years to determine.
The University of Toronto astronomers (David Lafrenière, Ray Jayawardhana, Marten H. van Kerkwijk) who discovered this planetary object using the Gemini North telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawai‘i, viewed the extrasolar system in the near-infrared range using adaptive optics technology to reduce distortions from air turbulence.
The star is a very young K7 type star, 85% the mass of our Sun. Being young and very hot, it is also very large. The planet is also very hot, about 11.25 times hotter (Jupiter is about -110ºC, while this planet is at around 1500 ºC).
"First Picture of Likely Planet around Sun-like Star." Gemni Observatory. 15 Sept. 2008. Web. 5 Oct. 2008. <http://www.gemini.edu/node/11126>.