Gemini Observatory | 2015 Aug 13
[img3="Discovery image of 51 Eri b with the Gemini Planet Imager taken in the near-infrared light on December 18, 2014. The bright central star has been mostly removed by a hardware and software mask to enable the detection of the exoplanet one million times fainter. Credits: J. Rameau (UdeM) and C. Marois (NRC Herzberg)"]http://www.gemini.edu/images/pio/News/2 ... 5/fig1.jpg[/img3]Going beyond the discovery and imaging of a young Jupiter, astronomers using the Gemini Observatory’s new Planet Imager (GPI) have probed a newly discovered world in unprecedented detail. What they found is a planet about two times the mass of Jupiter, and the most solar system-like planet ever directly imaged around another star.
The planet, known as 51 Eridani b, orbits its host star at about 13 times the Earth-Sun distance (equivalent to being between Saturn and Uranus in our solar system). The system is located about 100 light-years away. The Gemini data also provide scientists with the strongest-ever spectroscopic detection of methane in the atmosphere of a planet outside of our solar system, adding to its similarities with giant planets in our solar system.
“Many of the exoplanets astronomers have imaged before have atmospheres that look like very cool stars” said Bruce Macintosh, of Stanford University who led the construction of GPI and now leads the planet-hunting survey. “This one looks like a planet.” ...
The discovery is part of the team's broader effort to find and characterize new planets called the GPI Exoplanet Survey (GPIES). The survey expects to explore over 600 stars that could host planetary systems; so far they've looked at almost a hundred stars. "This is exactly the kind of system we envisioned discovering when we designed GPI", says James Graham, professor at UC Berkeley and Project Scientist for GPI. ...
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Discovery and spectroscopy of the young Jovian planet 51 Eri b with the Gemini Planet Imager - B. Macintosh et al