Some might remember the November, 2008 announcement of the first images of planets outside our solar system (see blog http://www.lowell.edu/blog/?p=296 and Lowell Observer article: http://www.lowell.edu/friends/content/observer/09spring.pdf). Lowell astronomer Travis Barman is part of the team that announced the original discovery as well as last week’s discovery of a 4th planet detected in the same system.
Orbiting star HR 8799, the new planet (labeled HR 8799e) is the closest of the four to their star and is also a gas giant. It was detected with the Keck II Telescope on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The discovery is challenging models for how the system of planets may have formed since it has been difficult to develop a model that explains all the plants in their current positions.
See more coverage of the story see www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101208172320.htm or search for HR 8799.
Image caption and credit: Three planets (b, c, and d) and newly discovered planet “e” orbit a star some 129 light years from Earth. The curved arrows represent the coming 10 years of orbital motion for the planets. 20 AU refers to 20 times the distance from the Earth to the sun. This ...