Watch Exoplanet Around Distant Star

September 17th, 2015 LO/MIT, SOLEC

Gemini South Telescope (Chile), coated with LO/MIT, takes a series of images of a gas giant orbiting its parent star 60 light years away.

via Astronomy Now

Watching An Exoplanet in Motion Around a Distant Star
by Dunlap Institute/Gemini Observatory Press Release

First discovered in 2008, beta Pictoris b is a gas giant planet ten to twelve times the mass of Jupiter, with an orbit roughly the diameter of Saturn’s. It is part of a dynamic and complex system that includes comets, orbiting gas clouds, and an enormous debris disc that in our solar system would extend from Neptune’s orbit to nearly two thousand times the Sun/Earth distance. Because the planet and debris disc interact gravitationally, the system provides astronomers with an ideal laboratory to test theories on the formation of planetary systems beyond ours.

Maxwell Millar-Blanchaer, a PhD-candidate in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto, is lead author of a paper published on 16 September in the Astrophysical Journal. The paper describes observations of the ? Pictoris system made with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) instrument on the Gemini South telescope in Chile.

The images in the series represent the most accurate measurements of the planet’s position ever made,” says Millar-Blanchaer. “In addition, with GPI, we’re able to see both the disc and the planet at the exact same time. With our combined knowledge of the disc and the planet we’re really able to get a sense of the planetary system’s architecture and how everything interacts.”

Read more

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Dunlap Institute Website
AURA Gemini Website

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