General, Research, Technology

The first photograph of a planet from another star system was taken

Today we look at the photos calmlyplanets of the solar system and their satellites on their smartphones, but this was not always the case. Fifty years ago, before the launch of robotic spacecraft Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, it was not possible for scientists and ordinary people to see Jupiter and Saturn, not to mention the more distant Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. What can we say about distant worlds in other stellar systems. Fortunately, scientific progress does not stand still and today - for the first time in history - we can see stunning new worlds with our own eyes. Recently, astronomers have taken a real picture of the planet in a nearby star system using a very large telescope (VLT). The gas giant, dubbed "b Pictoris c", is located about 63 light years from Earth and orbits its parent star at an extremely close distance.

Exoplanet b Pictoris c is 63 light years from our planet

Exoplanet hunting

Over the past few decadesastronomical studies have identified several thousand exoplanets in the observable universe, but very few of them we will ever be able to see. It is important to understand that scientists conclude that most exoplanets are present. only by their gravity or ability to block starlight. To take the first ever photograph of an exoplanetthe researchers turned a very large telescope (VLT) in Chile towards the star Beta Pictoris, which is 63 light-years from Earth.

As the authors of the work published in the journal writeAstronomy and Astrophysics, the current level of technology does not yet allow direct imaging of exoplanets. The fact is that the planets, in comparison with the stars, are very dim and astronomers cannot see them in a halo of light. The gas giant located in the Beta Pictoris or Beta Pictoris star system is on the list of less than twenty extraterrestrial worlds that scientists have observed directly, and the existence of some of them is in question. It should be noted that scientists have been studying the Beta Pictoris star system for many years, estimating its age at less than two million years.

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Here are schematic photographs showing the geometry of the β Pictoris star system: in the image on the left, you can see each star and 2 planets embedded in the dust disk.

As Futurism, the gas giant b Pictoris c was discovered using direct imaging, which, again, is rarely used. However, anomalies in its radial velocity prompted astronomers to take a closer look. Radial Velocity Analysis Is a less common way of detecting exoplanets, based on the use of telescopes to detect small fluctuations in the light of stars caused by the gravity of their planets.

As a result of the hunt for exoplanets of stellarSystem Beta Painter, scientists have obtained an excellent dataset describing the movement of these exoplanets. However, there are still mysteries in this distant system to unravel. Thus, the light from exoplanet b Pictoris c is six times weaker than from neighboring β Pictoris b. It is noteworthy that the mass of b Pictoris c is eight times the mass of Jupiter, so how big is the neighboring planet? The researchers believe it is slightly larger than b Pictoris c, but more research will be needed to find out for sure if this is the case. Fortunately, this will not be a problem - with two visible exoplanets, the Beta Painter star system will be a target for many astronomers.

VLT is a complex of four separate 8.2-meter and four auxiliary 1.8-meter optical telescopes, combined into a single system.

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During the work, the team used the method underThe Radial Velocity Method, which has been used for many years to detect hundreds of exoplanets, but has never been applied directly to the exoplanets themselves. By combining images from four VLT telescopes, astronomers were able to track the exact location in extreme detail, which also allowed them to photograph b Pictoris c - for the first time in history the existence of exoplanets has been confirmed using both the "radial velocity method" and through photography.

This means that now astronomers can getinformation about both the brightness and mass of this exoplanet. Generally, the more massive the planet, the brighter it is. However, before determining the mass, the team will have to wait until there is enough radial velocity data, which can take some time since the planet makes a complete revolution around its star in 28 Earth years.

We are just beginning to explore stunning new worlds, from the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy to planets outside the solar system.

Frank Eisenhower is the lead researcher for the gravity project at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Extraterrestrial Physics.