Home > Astronomy, Exoplanets, General Astronomy > New Study Brings A Doubted Exoplanet ‘Back From The Dead’

New Study Brings A Doubted Exoplanet ‘Back From The Dead’


Artist’s impression of the exoplanet, Fomalhaut b, orbiting its sun, Fomalhaut. Credit: ESA; Hubble, M. Kornmesser; and ESO, L. Calçada and L. L. Christensen

A second look at data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is reanimating the claim that the nearby star Fomalhaut hosts a massive exoplanet. The study suggests that the planet, named Fomalhaut b, is a rare and possibly unique object that is completely shrouded by dust.

In November 2008, Hubble astronomers announced the exoplanet, named Fomalhaut b, as the first one ever directly imaged in visible light around another star. The object was imaged just inside a vast ring of debris surrounding but offset from the host star. The planet’s location and mass — no more than three times Jupiter’s — seemed just right for its gravity to explain the ring’s appearance.

Recent studies have claimed that this planetary interpretation is incorrect. A new analysis, however, brings the planet conclusion back to life.

“Although our results seriously challenge the original discovery paper, they do so in a way that actually makes the object’s interpretation much cleaner and leaves intact the core conclusion, that Fomalhaut b is indeed a massive planet,” said Thayne Currie, an astronomer formerly at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and now at the University of Toronto.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/science/fomalhaut-exo.html

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