Planet that takes 80,000 Earth years to orbit around its Sun discovered
An international team of researchers has discovered and photographed a new planet 155 light-years from our solar system.
The international research team, led by Marie-Eve Naud, a PhD student in the Department of Physics at the Universite de Montreal, was able to find this planet by combining observations from the Gemini Observatory, the Observatoire Mont-Megantic (OMM), the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) and the W. M. Keck Observatory.
GU Psc b a€" a star three times less massive than the Sun and located in the constellation Pisces - is around 2,000 times the Earth-Sun distance from its star, a record among exoplanets. Given this distance, it takes approximately 80,000 Earth years for GU Psc b to make a complete orbit around its star.
The researchers also took advantage of the large distance between the planet and its star to obtain images. By comparing images obtained in different wavelengths (colors) from the OMM and CFHT, they were able to correctly detect the planet.
The researchers were looking around GU Psc because the star had just been identified as a member of the young star group AB Doradus. Young stars (only 100 million years old) are prime targets for planetary detection through imaging because the planets around them are still cooling and are therefore brighter.
This does not mean that planets similar to GU Psc b exist in large numbers, as noted by by Etiene Artigau, co-supervisor of Naud's thesis and astrophysicist at the Universite de Montreal. "We observed more than 90 stars and found only one planet, so this is truly an astronomical oddity!"
(Posted on 14-05-2014)
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