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This is the first image of a planet near another star

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This weekend, we celebrate the discovery of the first exoplanet thirty years ago. This week’s space photo is of 2M1207b. This is the first photo of a planet near another star.

Before photographing the first exoplanet in 2004, astronomers discovered hundreds of other planets. There is a reason Different methods of locating exoplanets, As measuring whether a star’s light is dimming (often caused by a planet blocking some starlight) or whether a star is shaking (due to the planet’s gravity). But why not take a photo of a planet outside the solar system during those 12 years?

It took twelve years, because taking a photo of an exoplanet is very difficult. It is related to three points: size, distance, and brightness. The planets are much smaller than the stars. In addition, the distance between exoplanets and Earth is many light-years, making them almost invisible. After all, the stars give off light, while the planets reflect light. A star emits too much light and the exoplanet disappears. To take a photo of the planet, the starlight must be stopped – for example a Coronograph – But the exoplanet should be large enough and not orbit too close to the parent star.

The first family picture
In 2004, we were finally able to capture a planet on a sensitive plate. Photo taken Through one of the four largest reflecting telescopes of a very large telescope. Planet 2M1207b orbits a brown dwarf star (2M1207). A brown dwarf is a failed star. At birth, there is not enough material to start the synthesis of protons. The brown dwarf does not emit light, but only glows in infrared light.

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The planet in the photo above has five times the mass of Jupiter. The distance between the brown dwarf and the giant Jupiter-like planet is about eight billion kilometers: 55 times the distance of Earth-Sun and twice the distance of Neptune-Sun. In fact, this object meets all ‘conditions’ as set out in paragraph 3. The exoplanet is relatively large, has a large distance from the parent star, and the star itself emits very little (or not at all in this case) light, and eventually the distance to Earth is relatively short: 160 light-years.

Scientists will not get sharp images of the planet, but they can use other technologies to learn more about 2M1207b. In 2016, scientists used the Hubble Telescope to map a million-year-old planet. The atmosphere of the exoplanet is so warm that rocks and glass melt and evaporate and fall back as ‘rain’. It takes ten hours for the exoplanet to orbit its axis.

First photo of multiple exoplanets near a star
Since the first photo of one exoplanet, more images have been produced from other exoplanets. The most prominent photo below is a portrait of the Sun-like star TYC 8998-760-1 and two exoplanets. This picture was also taken with a very large telescope. “This star is a very young version of our own sun,” said researcher Alexander Bone. Last year. “This discovery is a snapshot of an environment very similar to our solar system, but at a very early stage of development.”

In the future, we may see more photos of exoplanets. The James Webb Telescope will be commissioned this summer. It is the largest space telescope ever. Astronomers will certainly study nearby stars with this space telescope to find the answer to one of the biggest questions: Are we alone in this universe?

Over the past decades, space telescopes and satellites have captured beautiful images of nebulae, galaxies, star nurseries, and planets. Every weekend we remove one or more space photos from the archive. Want to enjoy all the photos? Check them out On this page.

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