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Fraser
2005-Apr-08, 04:02 PM
SUMMARY: Astronomers have discovered more than 150 planets orbiting distant stars, but only indirectly. Now an international team of researchers think they might have the first direct photograph of a planet orbiting another star. The image is of GQ Lupi, a young star located 400-500 light-years away. A dimmer object, potentially a planet, is located to the right of the star separated by 100 astronomical units (2.5 times the distance of the Sun to Pluto). Unfortunately, the astronomers haven't been able to determine the mass of the object, so they can't rule out that it might be a brown dwarf.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/first_photo_exoplanet.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

John L
2005-Apr-08, 10:58 PM
Slowly but surely our ability to find and now see these worlds is improving.

StarLab
2005-Apr-08, 11:02 PM
Slowly but surely our ability to find and now see these worlds is improving. That's ALL you fellas can say?! :rolleyes:

Greg
2005-Apr-09, 12:49 AM
Well, before you light the cigars up there is still a possibility that this could be a brown dwarf. Nevertheless this is truly an astounding achievement, one I would not have conceived possible 20 years ago. I am glad that more such discoveries will b happening in my lifetime. It is like a new age of discovery. I can imagine what Europeans must have felt like around the time word of Columbus's voyage spread across Europe. I hope that we treat any aliens we might find better than they treated the natives of America, however.

Matthew
2005-Apr-09, 02:20 AM
This object orbits its parent star at 2.5 times the distance that pluto orbits the sun. Based on the amount of light it is sending to earth it is either a very LARGE and highly reflective planet, or it is emiting some of its own light.

j0seph
2005-Apr-09, 05:44 AM
http://www.spacetoday.net/images/gqlupi.jpg

The more I Look at the picture of the object, the more I start to think it's actaully just a small star, to me it seems much to reflective and it is reflecting light from all directions. Did they say whether the object in the picture was in front of or behind the star (from our prospective)? because if it is in front of or even beside the star, it obviously cannot be a planet because of the way it is reflecting light, but if it is behind the star it is possible it could be a planet...

or maybe its a type of planet we have never encountered before... maybe it has an atmosphere that glows because of the star's radiation.. ;)

and hey... It looks kinda similar to this (it is a brown dwarf orbiting an obviously larger body)

http://www.eso.org/outreach/press-rel/pr-2004/images/phot-26a-04-preview.jpg

Greg
2005-Apr-09, 08:12 AM
The question that the above images conjures up is what are such large objects doing so far from their parent star? It would seem to argue in favor of our solar system harboring larger than expected objects in extremely long and possibly eccentric orbits. Maybe there is a body in the outer reaches of our solar system the size of mercury or bigger. Maybe we could call it planet X, but not in the sense that doomsayers use that term.

Don Alexander
2005-Apr-09, 02:53 PM
Hello, everybody!!!

This is a K band image at 2.2 microns, which is in the near infrared, which means heat.

What we are seeing here is NOT reflected light, but heat - the system is about one million years old, it is still very hot (approximately 2000 K).

And if that were reflected light, it would be utterly impossible to resolve actual phases on the planet, whose disk is orders of magnitude beyond the resolution of the best telescopes around!

David Alexander Kann
PhD student, Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Collaboration at ESO
Thueringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg

wstevenbrown
2005-Apr-09, 04:52 PM
To recap from other strings:
1) The objects are comoving (share a common proper motion across the sky)
2) The angular separation corresponds at that distance to 100 AU only in the lateral direction.
3) No orbital motion was detected.
4) The line-of sight separation error is of the same order as the distance estimate, at this moment, plus/minus 7.5 LY. IOW, they might not be any more 'coupled' than we are to Sirius, in which case it will be a very long time before orbital motion shows up.
5) All of the light we see is self-generated, mostly by heat of formation as Don Alexander has said. Depending on which end of the allowable mass range it is in, it may be generating some light from short-lived, non-sustainable S-process fusion.

Didn't anybody read the source document? I will go fetch it and post a link. S

http://fr.arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/...503/0503691.pdf (http://fr.arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0503/0503691.pdf)

That's better. See what the researchers have to say for themselves.

Guest
2005-Apr-10, 01:54 PM
Wonderful info and great story but I wouldn't really call this the first photo, Spitzer has perhaps snapped one in IR, the guys at NASA/ESA have been looking at the ESO pics and Hubble got one also, have a look at the star called 2M1207 European ESO and American astronomers have already detected this kind of faint object , Benjamin Zuckerman from California done much work on Europe's VLT and follow up observations carried out with NASA / ESA search using Hubble Space Telescope provided important supporting evidence

This might be our 3RD photo of an extra solar world

prathamesh
2005-Apr-10, 05:41 PM
No, not surely. We would have taken some photos but we did not have recognized them!

filrabat
2005-Apr-10, 08:17 PM
Originally posted by j0seph@Apr 9 2005, 05:44 AM

The more I Look at the picture of the object, the more I start to think it's actaully just a small star, to me it seems much to reflective and it is reflecting light from all directions. Did they say whether the object in the picture was in front of or behind the star (from our prospective)? because if it is in front of or even beside the star, it obviously cannot be a planet because of the way it is reflecting light, but if it is behind the star it is possible it could be a planet...

or maybe its a type of planet we have never encountered before... maybe it has an atmosphere that glows because of the star's radiation.. ;)

and hey... It looks kinda similar to this (it is a brown dwarf orbiting an obviously larger body)


If I recall, this photo is an infrared image. Lots of gas giants produce their own infrared signatures independent of their parent star (excuse the reduncant concepts). If it's 100 AU away from the star (as far as I can remeber, correct me if I'm wrong), then that explains the clarity of the minor body.

It could well be a brown dwarf, although astronomers seem to have down to a...well...science how to calculate the masses of orbiting bodies. It's a pretty straight forward formula from what I understand. (look through This (http://http://curriculum.calstatela.edu/courses/builders/lessons/less/les1/Vles1.html) to see what I mean). Therefore, I think if they meant "brown dwarf", the professional astronomers would have said "brown dwarf"

Still, you are wise to bring up the possibility that it's just a background star. At least or two false calls have been made on this matter.