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    First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed - Forum

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    Forum moderator: arya, dethalternate  
    Forum » Main » Science, Astronomy, Nature » First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed
    First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed
    ManuDate: Friday, 02-July-2010, 7:43 AM | Message # 1
    --dragon lord--
    Group: undead
    Messages: 12779
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    A planet outside of our solar system, said to be the first ever directly photographed by telescopes on Earth, has been officially confirmed to be orbiting a sun-like star, according to follow-up observations.

    The alien planet is eight times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at an unusually great distance from its host star — more than 300 times farther from the star than our Earth is from the sun.

    Astronomers first discovered the planet in 2008 using visible light observations from telescopes on Earth, making it the first direct photo of an extrasolar world. But at the time there was still the remote chance that it only looked like it was orbiting the star, from the perspective of Earth, due to a lucky alignment of object, star and observer.

    "Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other," said astronomer David Lafreniere, who led the research team that discovered the planet.

    The new observations that confirm the planet circles its parent star were made using high-resolution adaptive optics technology at the Gemini Observatory. The observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes, located at Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon in northern Chile.

    Planet around young star

    The host star, which has an estimated mass of about 85 percent that of our sun, is located approximately 500 light-years away in a group of young stars called the Upper Scorpius Association that formed about 5 million years ago.

    The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,500 degrees Celsius). This makes the planet much hotter than Jupiter, which has an atmospheric cloud-top temperature of approximately minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 110 degrees Celsius).

    The relatively young age of the system — our solar system is 4.6 billion years old — explains the high temperature of the planet, according to the researchers.

    Full article/source - http://www.space.com/science....29.html

     
    ManuDate: Tuesday, 06-July-2010, 7:21 AM | Message # 2
    --dragon lord--
    Group: undead
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    A planet-like object about eight times the size of Jupiter is locked in orbit around very young star, though the exact relationship between the two remains a mystery.

    Circling 300 times farther from the star than Earth orbits the sun, the object could be a planet, perhaps one that was catapulted out into the nether regions after a collision or close encounter with an as-yet undetected sibling planet.

    "There is no theory for how a true planet can form at 300 AU (astronomical units, with one unit equal to 93 million miles, the mean distance between Earth and the sun). It's not really a lack of imagination. It's a lack of physics," California Institute of Technology astronomer John Johnson told Discovery News.

    Current theories, observations and computer models show that planets form from a disk of gas and dust that circles young stars. Less material is available as the distance to the parent star grows.

    "You actually have to have material out there to have the planet forming," Johnson said.

    Another option is that the object, designated as 1RXS J160929.1-210524 b and located about 500 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius, is a new type of failed star -- something akin to a brown dwarf, though about half the size -- which formed along with the primary star about 5 million years ago.

    But scientists similarly are at a loss to explain how such a relatively small object could have survived the stellar birthing process.

    "The models show it's difficult to successfully produce a low-mass object next to a much more massive object," said University of Montreal astronomer David Lafreniere, who lead a team that photographed the object in 2008, the first time a planet beyond the solar system was directly imaged.

    Confirmation this week by Lafreniere and colleagues that the object is indeed in orbit with its parent -- or sibling -- star should galvanize follow-on studies that could illuminate the relationship, such as finding sister planets or building an inventory of similar systems elsewhere in the galaxy.

    "This is a puzzle right now," Lafreniere said. "How do you end up with an object with this mass with this large of a separation?"

    The research will appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    source - http://news.discovery.com/space/star-orbit-planet.html

     
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