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Trying Again: Another First Image of Extra-Solar Planet

We posted in January about the image captured of a planet orbiting a brown dwarf -- essentially a star without sufficient mass to fully ignite -- and said the astronomers who took the snapshot were "99.1% sure." But doubts still remain, the planet is still not confirmed, and the status of the star (brown dwarf) and the "planet" (huge, many times bigger than Jupiter) left many astronomers less-than-satisfied.

Now we get a second chance at astronomical fun. Space.com reports that a team of European astronomers, working since 1999, have imaged a confirmed planet around an honest-to-goodness star. GQ Lupi is about 400 light years away, and is only about a million years old -- a youngster compared to our six billion year old sun. The planet is quite far from its parent star, at roughly twice Neptune's distance, but has been positively linked to GQ Lupi over the six years of observations. The only remaining doubts are about its mass, which is currently estimated at about twice that of Jupiter, but may range up to double that.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 1, 2005 5:34 PM.

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