Tales of: Image of a planet orbiting another star

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The first image of a planet orbiting another star
See image below
 

Over the past 13 years, astronomers have found more than 300 planets orbiting other stars. These planets, known as extrasolar planets, are usually detected by measuring the slight wobbles of their stars. None, however, have been viewed directly because they are too far away and too dim to be seen. Observing extrasolar planets is like trying to see a fly fluttering around a streetlight.

Now, astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have taken the first visible-light images of a planet orbiting the nearby, bright southern star, Fomalhaut. The star is located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis and is a relatively young star, only 200 million years old. The images show the planet, named Fomalhaut b, as a tiny point source of light orbiting the star. Observations taken 21 months apart with the Advanced Camera for Surveys show that the planet is orbiting Fomalhaut, and therefore is gravitationally bound to it. Fomalhaut b is orbiting 10.7 billion miles from its star. (Continued >>)

The star, Fomalhaut, and the planet, "Fomalhaut b"
Two images: the HST image of the planet in the star's debris disk. The second is an artist's conception of what the planet's environment.

Top: An artist's conception of the planet, Fomalhaut b, orbiting the star, Fomalhaut.

Bottom: Hubble's image of the planet and star. This is the first visible-light image of a planet orbiting another star.

 

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Tales of: Image of a planet orbiting another star