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A second planet for Beta Pic confirmed!

5 Oct 2020, 13:00 UTC
A second planet for Beta Pic confirmed!
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Astronomers have confirmed the existence of a second planet orbiting the young nearby star Beta Pictoris! This is extremely cool. Evidence for the planet was first found in 2019, but it was indirect and not quite good enough to be called proof.

The new observations just announced show an image of the planet, confirming its existence. This is the first time a planet was found indirectly and then directly, and that's kindof a big deal. Here's why.

Beta Pic (as it's usually called) is a star so young — about 18 million years old or so — that it's still surrounded by the disk of dust and gas it formed from. The first planet discovered orbiting it, called Beta Pic b, was found in 2008. It can be seen in direct images, literally meaning you can see it in photos of the star. Since its discovery it's made nearly one complete orbit around the star, and its motion is seen as well.

Beta Pic b is about 9 times the mass of Jupiter, and still glowing with the heat of its formation (planets form by drawing in matter around them, so imagine getting whacked by millions of giant asteroids all ...

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