An image captured by the SPHERE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope shows two gas giant exoplanets orbiting a young Sun-like star. A coronagraph was used to block out the star’s light, allowing the much fainter planets to be detected. Image: ESO/Bohn et al.
For the first time, astronomers have captured an image of two giant exoplanets orbiting a young Sun-like star 300 light years from Earth. Direct images of exoplanets are rare and researchers have never before observed more than one planet orbiting a star similar to the Sun.
“This discovery is a snapshot of an environment that is very similar to our solar system, but at a much earlier stage of its evolution,” said Alexander Bohn, a Ph.D. student at Leiden University in the Netherlands and lead author of a paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The exoplanets in question orbit a young star known as TYC 8998-760-1 in the southern constellation Musca (the Fly). The star is similar to the Sun very early in its evolution but the two planets in question are very different from the gas giants in Earth’s solar system.
The inner planet is 14 times more massive than Jupiter and orbits 160 times ...