For the first time ever the SPHERE instrument on European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) has captured the first ever image of a young, Sun-like star accompanied by two giant exoplanets. The image shows the star TYC 8998-760-1 (top left of centre) accompanied by two giant exoplanets, TYC 8998-760-1b (bottom centre) and TYC 8998-760-1c (bottom right), located about 300 light-years away from Earth. The other bright dots are background stars. According to ESO “The image was captured by blocking the light from the young, Sun-like star (top-left of centre) using a coronagraph, which allows for the fainter planets to be detected. The bright and dark rings we see on the star’s image are optical artefacts.” Check out the full image.
Planet TYC 8998-760-1b is 14 times more massive than Jupiter, orbiting its star at a distance of 160 astronomical units (AU, which is the average distance from the Earth to the Sun i.e 93 million miles or 150 million km), while TYC 8998-760-1c is six times heavier than Jupiter and orbits at 320 AU.
The featured animation from ESO shows the orbits of the two exoplanets, compared with the size of Pluto’s orbit.
Image Credit: ESO/Bohn et al.
Video Credit: ESO/L.Calçada/spaceengine.org